New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Indian shooters continued to fire blanks at the Tokyo Olympics even as shrill voices continued to grow on social media, calling for accountability, and the national shooting federation president, Raninder Singh, saying that the coaching and support staff of the national squad would be overhauled after the Games.
On a day when Indian shooters gave their worst performance at the Tokyo Games, that too in their favourite events — mixed team 10m air pistol and mixed team 10m air rifle – the hope of a medal from the 15-member contingent, which was flown by a chartered flight to Croatia with nearly a dozen support staff for a two-month training-cum-competition stint, continued to fade on Tuesday.
The mixed team pair of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker, which was expected to win nothing less than a gold medal in Tokyo, finished a dismal seventh in Qualification Stage 2, prompting one of the stalwarts of shooting, rifle marksman Joydeep Karmakar, to say that it was a “disaster” and that “introspection” was desperately needed.
“Now I would call it a disaster… No blame game, no baseless criticism, no kids theory, No excuses, but sheer reality — WE NEED INTROSPECTION,” tweeted Karmakar, who missed bronze by a wafer-thin margin at the 2012 London Olympic Games in 50m rifle prone.
Not just the Manu-Chaudhary pair, but the duo of Abhishek Verma and Yasahaswini Singh Deswal couldn’t even get going in Qualification Stage 1, finishing 17th.
The story continued in 10m air rifle mixed team event with the pair of Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Singh Panwar shooting an abysmal 626.5 for a 12th place finish in Qualification Stage 1, while the duo of Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil shot 623.8 to finish 18th.
While the Chinese were hammering, battering, and smashing Indian shooters’ reputation as being some of the best in the world, the men’s hockey team gave a glimmer of hope, defeating Spain 3-0, with drag-flick stalwart Rupinderpal Singh scoring a brace, including a penalty stroke. Unlike Indian shooters, he was on target, converting a set-piece in the 15th minute to give his team 2-0 lead seconds before the end of the first quarter.
It was a test of character for the Indian team after the disastrous 1-7 thrashing by the Kookaburras in the last group game and Graham Reid’s boys lifted their game to improve their goal difference and kept themselves alive in the competition.
There was victory in defeat for ace table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal, who despite playing in his fourth Olympics and, seemingly his last, took a game off world No. 1, China’s Ma Long, in the men’s singles third-round match.
The 39-year-old Kamal ranked 32nd in the world, put up a great fight against the man considered one of the greatest table tennis players the world has seen, playing aggressively and succeeding in unnerving his Chinese opponent.
But Kamal’s resistance ended in the fourth and fifth games as he bowed out with head held high.
It was heartbreak of a different kind in badminton as the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty went out even though they won their final group match against British pair Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in straight games.
However, they could not qualify for the quarterfinals despite finishing on the same points as the world No. 1 pair Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (Indonesia), and the World No. 3 duo of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei) because they had an inferior game-difference. Such are the vagaries of competitive sport that the young shuttlers ended their campaign in the Tokyo Olympics on a disappointing note even though they performed superbly in what was the group of death.