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2018 Commonwealth Games: Hit by empty shell, Heena Sindhu masters conditions to win gold

Heena Sidhu, who had won silver on Sunday in the 10 metre air pistol event, broke the Commonwealth Games (CWG) record in the 25 metre pistol event final with a score of 38, beating Elena Galiabovitch of Australia to win gold. Annu Singh finished sixth.

other sports Updated: Apr 10, 2018 16:25 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Gold Coast
2018 Commonwealth Games,Heena Sidhu,Elena Galiabovitch
Heena Sidhu celebrates the Commonwealth Games 2018 (CWG 2018) gold medal with her coach and husband Ronak Pandit at the Belmont Shooting Centre in Gold Coast on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

Otherwise a steady and superb shooter, Heena Sidhu at times gets poor scores in the final compared to her qualifying rounds. She always complains about issues that crop up during finals and is usually unhappy with her scores in deciding rounds. (CWG live updates)

That was the reason why her coach and husband Ronak Pandit concentrated on simulating the worst possible conditions during training, so that Heena could be ready for every eventuality.

“In the last two months we simulated the worst conditions for her. We created windy conditions, made lot of noise and disturbance during training. The idea was to help her get ready for all situations and shoot her best,” Ronak told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

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But both of them could not have imagined the dramatic situation Heena had to overcome here on Tuesday, on her way to gold medal in the women’s 25m air pistol competition, that too with a new Commonwealth Games record. This was her second medal, adding to the silver she won in 10m air pistol two days ago.

Heena had to shoot under tremendous pressure in the qualifying stage as she was hit by an empty shell from the next station and could not take two shots, being credited zero for that.

The 25m air pistol event is held in two stages - precision and rapid fire rounds to test the shooters ability to the fullest. So on Tuesday at the Belmont Shooting Complex, Heena was placed seventh after the precision round, in which she was bothered by the windy conditions and also made a slight wrong adjustment to her gun.

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Things got more dramatic in the rapid fire stage as Heena was hit on her arm by an empty shell from a nearby station and could not take her shot. “As we can claim relief for disturbance, we lodged a protest. The officials admitted it and allowed her to shoot again but before she could take a shot, the competition officer announced the next shot and Heena’s previous shot too was registered as zero as the person handling the targets did not reset it properly.

India lodge protest

“As manager of the team, I protested and aggressively told them that how can the shooters be asked to arm their guns for the next shot even before the protest on the previous one was resolved. I told them that she will not shoot till a decision is taken.

“So, while other shooters completed their routine, Heena waited for them to take a decision on the protest. They finally realised the mistake and allowed her to shoot. So, she attempted the last 10 shots of her qualifying series alone with all the competitors and spectators watching her. She shot superbly under tremendous pressure and qualified in the third position,” Ronak added.

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It’s difficult to shoot at a target that is not much bigger than the tip of a small pin. Doing that alone with the entire stadium wondering why you are doing so when the competition is over is nightmarish situation, she came up with one of her best efforts in recent times.

However, Heena not only managed that to qualify for the final but went on win gold medal. She took lead

Heena took the lead from Australia’s Elena Galiabovitch in the third elimination round, following two fives and a four. She increased the margin to three in the next round (31-28) as Eleanor Bezzina of Malta bowed out in fourth place, the same position she finished in the 10m air pistol.

Galiabovitch pulled one back in the next two-shot elimination round, as Malaysia’s Alia Azahari,eighth at Glasgow, exited with the bronze medal.

Heena scored a four in the final round to the Australian’s three, winning with two shots to spare with a score of 38, which is a Commonwealth Games record.

Though it was competition of shooting skills, for Heena it turned out to be a test of skills and nerves and the Indian came up trumps, overcoming the dramatic situations. The simulation of disturbances during training finally helped her maintain steely nerves.

Chain Singh fourth

Annu Singh, India’s other shooter in this competition, qualified second but could not maintain her high standard and finished sixth overall.

In the men’s 50m rifle prone, Chain Singh came close but could only manage fourth position in the final after qualifying in the sixth position. Gagan Narang, Olympic bronze medallist in men’s 10m air rifle, qualified placed third but could not maintain the high standard as he finished seventh among eight competitors.

First Published: Apr 10, 2018 11:50 IST