Vijay Kumar off target as shooting team makes shaky start

India made a shaky start to their shooting campaign in the Olympic Games with Vijay Kumar failing to qualify for the final of the men's 10m Air Pistol event at the Royal Artillery Barracks here today.

The 27-year-old Army man from Himachal Pradesh finished a disappointing 31st out of 44 shooters with a score of 570, giving him no chance at all to make the next grade.

Vijay, who won three gold medals and one silver in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and two bronze in the Guangzhou Asian Games, was no match for the formidable shooters from China, Korea, Serbia and Spain.

Vijay shot scores of 94 95 94 97 97 and 93 to start India's medal quest from the shooting ranges on a low-key note.

Korea's Jongoh Jin finished at the top in the qualification round with a score of 588 while China's Wei Pang finished second with 586. Andrija Zlatic of Serbia (585), Pablo Carrera of Spain (585), Luca Tesconi of Italy (584) and Oleh Omelchuk of Ukraine (583) were among those who qualified for the final.

For the first time, India have fielded a record 11 shooters for the event, unlike eight in the last Games in Beijing four years ago.

Heena Sidhu and Annuraj Singh will be seen in action tomorrow in the women's 10-metre Air Pistol event.

July 30 could turn out to be a big day for India as Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang will be representing the country in their pet event -- 10-metre Air Rifle. Two days later, Ronjan Sodhi will look to hit the bull's eye in the double trap event.

First-timer Olympian Sodhi, who had trained in Italy along with Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Shagun Choudhary, arrived at the Games with two world titles under his belt.

Then there are also Sanjeev Rajput, Joydeep Karmakar and Rahi Sarnobat -- all capable of producing scores good enough to get medals.

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