Abhinav Bindra lost a heart-stopping shoot-off and a great chance to provide India with their first medal of the Olympic Games on a day of missed opportunities for the country’s contingent here.
In his fifth successive and final Olympic appearance, Bindra had to settle for a fourth place after eventual silver medallist Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine edged the Indian out 10.5-10 in the men’s 10m air rifle shoot-off in the race to reach the medal round after the two were tied with the same score at the packed Olympic Shooting Centre in Deodoro.
It later emerged that the Zirakpur-based ace shooter, who had finished seventh in the qualifying round to make the cut for the finals, which his compatriot and London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang failed to do, had shot with a malfunctioning gun.
Just before the start of the 10m air rifle qualification at 9am local time, Bindra — gold medal winner in the same event in 2008 at Beijing — fell down along with his gun from the chair and as a result the ‘sight’ of his rifle broke.
“This is something a shooter would not want before a game. He had specially made it for the Olympics to suit the lighting. Even after such meticulous detailing he fell short. But a shooter is conditioned to shoot even if the roof is falling. We got over it and started with our game,” his coach Heinz Reinkemeier said later.
But India’s only individual Olympic champion did not trot out any excuses, but only announced his retirement from the sport that had brought him world-wide attention and fame after he won the gold in the same event in Beijing in 2008, saying he’s ‘done’ and will now convert his shooting range into a garden. “I’m converting that into a vegetable garden.
Don’t you think I’m a serious person. Maybe the next time (Tokyo 2020), I will come as a journalist if anybody gives me a job,” said Bindra.
Asked whether he may reconsider his decision, the 33-year-old said, “I’m done, I’ve announced my retirement, so there’s no reconsideration.” To add to the woes on other fronts, the men’s hockey team slumped to a 1-2 defeat to Germany by conceding a goal in the last few seconds left in the match on the third day of competitions.
There were setbacks elsewhere with men’s trap shooting duo of Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai not able to improve on their opening day’s performance. They failed to qualify for the semifinals, signing off at 16th and 19th respectively on the second and final day of qualification.
Woman archer Laxmirani Majhi also put up a below-par show in the individual elimination round one and bowed out without a fight, losing 1-7 against Alexandra Longova of Slovakia. And as the day drew to a close, the women’s hockey squad suffered a humiliating 0-3 loss to Britain.