Tokyo, Jul 24: Indian shooters endured multiple heartbreaks on the first day of their competition in the Tokyo Olympics here on Saturday, with the biggest disappointment being Saurabh Chaudhary’s failure to win a medal after topping the qualifications.
Chaudhary could not replicate the form he displayed in the qualifications to finish seventh in the men’s 10m air pistol final.
His roommate and friend Abhishek Verma could not make the eight-man finals, settling for the 17th place with 575 in the event that was considered one of India’s best bets for a podium finish.
Iran’s Javad Foroughi, who entered the Games in red-hot form having won both the World Cups in the lead-up, was crowned the new Olympic champion, finishing with a score of 244.8 in the 24-shot final.
Serbian Damir Mikec realized his dream of an Olympic medal in his fourth Games, winning silver with 237.9. Beijing Games champion Pang Wei of China won bronze with 217.6.
In the women’s 10m air rifle event, first-timer Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela, too, failed to qualify for the finals, finishing 16th and 36th respectively, at the Akasa Range.
China’s Qian Wang won the ongoing Games’ first gold medal after she shot an Olympic record 251.8 in the eight-woman finals.
The Russian Olympic Committee’s Anastasiia Galashina claimed the silver with 251.1 while Switzerland’s Nina Christen took the bronze with 230.6.
Following his sensational entry into the finals, a lot of hope were pinned on Chaudhary after a dismal show by the women. But the script did not pan out the way the country’s shooting team would have wanted it to.
The Indian ace shot 137.4 to be eliminated in the seventh place. Chaudhary did not get off to the best of starts and, with a score of 47.7, was placed eighth in the standings after the first five shots.
The Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold-medallist was positioned sixth after the 12th shot, with a score of 117.2.
He managed to survive the first elimination round but could not sustain that for long.
Things were different in the qualifications though, with Chaudhary shooting 586 to finish ahead of a world-class field, thanks to a perfect 100 in the fourth series after back-to-back 98.
Verma was also in contention to make the cut after staging an excellent rally, but two 8s in the final series dashed his hopes.
Chaudhary started in an excellent fashion, shooting 10 out of 10 before slipping in the second part of the first series.
Appearing in his maiden Olympics, the 19-year-old multiple World Cup gold-medallist then rallied from the 19th place, in a field of 36, to inch closer to the top eight qualifying spots.
Earlier in the day, world number one Elavenil finished 16th in the qualifications after shooting 626.5 over six series of 10 shots each, while the more experienced Apurvi, who is also the finals world record holder in the event, settled for the 36th place after aggregating 621.9.
The Indians were off to a decent start and even as Apurvi slipped after a disastrous second series, with two scores of 9.5 and 9.9, the 21-year-old Elavenil tried to remain in the reckoning with a fine performance in the third series, including shooting a perfect 10.9.
However, Elavenil, a World Cup Final gold-medallist, could not maintain the same form and a couple of 9s in the fifth and sixth series pushed her further down.
Apurvi, 28, who has won two World Cup gold medals during her excellent run in 2019, had finished 34th at the 2016 Rio Games.
Ironically, the women’s 10m air rifle was the first event in which India clinched quotas for the Tokyo Games with Apurvi and Anjum Moudgil claiming them at the 2018 World Championship in Changwon, Korea.
Moudgil’s quota was given to Elavenil on the basis of the latter’s excellent run of form through the Olympic selection cycle. (PTI)