Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang bright spots in quiet year for shooters

Dec 18 2012, 17:29 IST
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London Olympics medalist Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang, Sushil kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt at India Gate in New Delhi. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia) London Olympics medalist Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang, Sushil kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt at India Gate in New Delhi. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia)
SummaryThere were huge expectations from the Indians even before they left for the British capital.

The Olympic year had long been seen as the one that would provide Indian shooting its watershed moment but barring the success of Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang at the London Games, 2012 almost bordered on being termed a downer.

There were huge expectations from the Indians even before they left for the British capital but the hype, perhaps, was a trifle misplaced as the biggest ever shooting contingent returned with just a silver and a bronze.

The unassuming Vijay provided the shooting squad with a silver lining when he clinched the white metal in the 25-metre rapid-fire pistol event, a few days before the mercurial Narang bagged a bronze medal in the 10-metre air rifle showpiece.

But Abhinav Bindra failed to reproduce the form that saw him win India's first individual Olympic gold medal, in the Beijing Games four years ago.

The reserved rifleman from Zirakpur, Punjab could not even qualify for the final of his event – the 10-metre air rifle.

The biggest letdown, however, has been Ronjan Sodhi. The world record holder and a former number world number one failed to live upto the expectations when he crashed out of the qualifiers of the double trap event.

Sodhi's failure was a bitter pill to swallow considering the success he enjoyed over the past few years at top world level events, especially the Asian Games and the ISSF World Cups.

However, barely a month and a half later, leaving behind the London disappointment, Sodhi won a silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Slovania.

The double trap ace would though agree that nothing comes closer to an Olympic medal for an athlete. Sodhi's talent was never in doubt and his score of 191 in Slovania, which is three more than the London Games gold medal score, is proof enough of what he is capable of.

But moments of heartbreak turned to elation for India when Vijay and Narang finished on the podium at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

After the twin failures in Athens 2004 and Beijing, Narang was hoping to be third time lucky, and he deserved it more than anyone else this time around.

"I am happy to have won a medal, it's off my chest now. But I was aiming for better. My coach, my mother was not happy," Narang admitted later.

Vijay, on the other hand, entered the signature event more as a darkhorse, but there was no doubting his ability to produce medal-winning score

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