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India?s silver lining in Manavjit?s trap

Women?s air pistol team comes up with an unexpected silver medal in the Doha Asian Games, reports Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2006 00:03 IST

The tempo is building up and the guns are booming. After winning two bronze medals on Saturday, India came good at the Al Lusail Ranges on Sunday with World champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu clinching an individual silver and anchoring the trap team to another medal on a terribly windy day.

There was more cheer with the women's air pistol team also winning a silver medal as Harveen Srao, Sonia Rai and Shweta Chaudhary aggregated 1142. Srao made it to the individual final as well, and finished fifth (383+90.8=473.8).

There was a big chance for India to trap gold — individual and team event — but elements seemed to have conspired. Bone-chilling winds that altered the trajectory of the clay birds were too difficult for the Indian shooters to handle.

No doubt, Manavjit Singh's coach Marcello Dradi was there to instill confidence and double-trap shooter and Olympic Games silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore kept a close watch on the sinewy shooter, but in the end, Kuwait's Naser Meqlad mastered the eddies to emerge champion with a score of 133 out of 150.

There were celebrations in the stands and Manavjit himself said he was happy with his score of 130, but the joy that comes with winning a gold medal was missing.

The Indian team comprising Manavjit, Anwer Sultan and Mansher Singh clinched silver behind Kuwait with a combined score of 322. Although there was wind on Saturday and Manavjit seemed to have come to grips with the conditions when he shot a 70 out of 75 to be joint leader on Saturday, things became worse on Sunday and it reflected in the scores.

The lowest final score in the series of 25 shots was just 12 and the highest 20. Just come to think of it that the best in Asia were shooting such low scores!

Coming into the final round after completing the qualification with a score of 113, Manavjit shot a 17 in the final.

"It was not a level-playing field," he said. "Last night (after the first day's qualification) we were hopeful of two gold medals — but conditions turned worse and you can't do anything about it," said the Zagreb World champion and Asian clay pigeon gold-medallist.

"My preparations were up to the mark despite the fact that I was tired after such a strenuous year … I pushed myself to the limit," said the Delhi-based marksman.

"With the targets going everywhere, you had no idea where they would go." Of course, there were a few hundred Indians to cheer their hero and say some encouraging words, but Manavjit himself didn't feel quite at ease. The gold was not around his neck.

Hopefully, Manavjit and the trap team have shown the way for bigger things. Rathore was there all along watching the proceedings, and after that, wore his jacket to put in some more hours in the wind.

First Published: Dec 03, 2006 23:28 IST