Bindra returns with a bang
Abhinav Bindra dug into his experience to help India to the men’s 10m air rifle gold medal on the opening day of the shooting competitions of the 20th Commonwealth Games at the Barry Buddon shooting centre near here on Friday.
It was a great comeback to form for the 31-year-old as he took the gold medal with a Games record final score of 205.3 points. His clinical performance immediately brought back memories of his salad days and the historic manner in which he had helped India gain its first ever individual gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Abdullah Baki (Bangladesh) was second with 202.1 ahead of Daniel Rivers (England), who was lucky to win the bronze with 182.4. The Englishman was on the verge of elimination before he tied with the second Indian in the fray, K. Ravi Kumar, in the seventh round leading to a shoot-off.
Ravi Kumar, who led the field initially before Bindra took firm control with his consistent marksmanship, could only manage a 9.6 against the 10.4 by Rivers in the one-shot shoot-off.
Rivers’ luck, however, ran out in the next round. Forced into another shoot-off, this time with Baki, he came off second best.
In the morning prelims, Bindra was third with an aggregate of 622.2 points, a notch ahead of Ravi Kumar at 620.6. The two young English shooters — Rivers and Kenneth Parr — had the lead, but with these scores only used to ensure qualification these days, it was with a clean slate that the eight shooters began the final.
Ravi Kumar was in the lead through the initial five rounds in the final but could not sustain his show. Bindra, fourth after the first round, simply got better and better with each round before finally moving to the top after the sixth round.
Bindra’s golden show came after India suffered mixed fortunes in the first final of the day. Sixteen-year-old Malaika Goel won a creditable silver in the women’s 10m air pistol, however, this came against the background of favourite Heena Sidhu’s shock elimination in the earlier stages of the final.
Goel, making her debut in the senior section of an international competition, showed great composure all through the event as she finished second behind Singapore’s Shun Xie Teo, who won with a total of 198.6 points, again a new Games record for the final.
The Indian had a total of 197.1 while Dorothy Ludwig (Canada) earned the bronze with 177.2.
Elsewhere, India’s Ahamed Mairaj Khan was placed eighth among 27 shooters at the end of day one of the qualifying in men’s skeet. Khan through the three rounds of 25 shots each had a total of 70 (24, 23, 23) points while compatriot Baba Bedi was in 19th position with a score of 64 (22, 21, 21) points.
The other Indian to be seen in action day was Arti Rao Singh in women’s skeet, but she could not keep up the rhythm after a great start.
She did eventually qualify for the semifinals in the fifth position with a score of 67 points only to finish in that position in the round of last four.
Arti was involved in a shoot off with Andri Eleftherion (Cyprus), after both finished the semifinals with an identical score of 12, and the Indian could only manage a 3 against the 4 of her rival.