After days of shooting bronze, Indian marksmen added a silver-lining despite not firing brilliant individually here at the 17th Asian Games on Friday.
With a return of just six bronze and a sole gold so far, the Indian shooting camp was not necessarily in the best of spirits but the trio of Pemba Tamang, Vijay Kumar and Gurpreet Singh nailed the silver in the men’s 25M centre fire pistol, narrowly missing out on a gold to China at the Ongnyeon International Range.
South Korea, whose Kim Yougmin suffered a rifle malfunction before taking his final two sets of 10 shots each after other shooters had completed their round, clinched the bronze as an anxious wait ensued to decide the medallists.
Lajja Gauswami, however, failed to build on the cheer, finishing sixth in the women’s 50M rifle 3-position event. While Lajja shot well in the qualification round, veteran Anjali Bhagwat and Tejaswini Muley couldn’t find their mark as the Indian team ended sixth in the team championship.
While most the hopes rested on London Olympics 25M rapid fire pistol silver-medallist Vijay Kumar despite his poor form off late, it was his Army Marksmanship Unit colleagues Pemba and Gurpreet who played the crucial role in securing the silver.
Gurpreet started well, staying in contention for an individual medal till the halfway stage. He began with 98, fired a superb 99 in his second set before managing a 95 in the third. That seemed to affect Gurpreet as he shot another 95 but recovered to fire 96 and 97 that helped him end ninth in the individual championship.
On the contrary, Pemba overcame a slow start to finish a step above Gurpreet. He shot 93 and 96 in his opening two sets but nailed two straight 99s to haul himself back into fourth place only for two consecutive 97s to spoil the party.
Vijay, struggling with cervical spondylitis and set to undergo surgery upon his return back home, was nowhere close to his best. Seemingly in pain, the 29-year-old made a tepid beginning, his opening three sets reading 95, 94 and 96. But a stunning 100 highlighted his class and he closed out with 98 and 96, his brilliant final series powering India to a much-needed silver.
“I’m really happy to have won the silver,” said a delighted Pemba.
“We are from the same Army team and we train together, so it is a very nice feeling to win the medal together.”
Inconsistency ruined Lajja’s hopes of a medal, the 26-year-old wavering from the ordinary to the good in every series. The 10s were immediately followed by the 9s as she always hovered around fifth in the rankings before collapsing in the final position -- standing. Five shots in the 9s and one 8.8 bought her back to the seventh position before getting eliminated at the first time of asking to sign off seventh.
Results: Men: 25M centre fire pistol: Individual championship: Oleg Engachev (Qat) 585-23x, 1; Jin Yongde (Chn) 585-21x, 2. Oleg (49) beat Jin (44) via shoot-off for gold. Bin Gai (Sin) 584-21x, 3.
Team championship: China (1742-56x) 1; India (Pemba Tamang, Gurpreet Singh, Vijay Kumar) 1740-68x, 2; Korea (1739-54x) 3.
Women: 50M rifle 3-position: Individual championship: Olga Dovgun (456.4) 1; Mira Jeong (Kor) 455.5, 2; Jing Chang (446.2) 3. Lajja Goswami (Ind) 401.6, 6.
Team championship: China (1737-69x) 1; South Korea (1734-74x) 2; Kazakhstan (1727-73x) 3. India (Lajja Gauswami, Anjali Bhagwat, Tejaswini Muley) 1722-68x, 6.