Chain, Neeraj shine

South Asian Games : Indian shooters rule the roost; Narang grabs silver

Chain, Neeraj shine

 Chain Singh led India’s gold rush at the Kahilipara Shooting Range, climbing atop the podium in an individual event for the second time in two days but not without facing a stiff fight from gritty Bangladeshi Md Sovon Chowdhury here on Friday.

Competing a day after acing the 50M rifle prone event at the ongoing 12th South Asian Games, the 26-year-old Army man from Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir capped a roller-coaster ride in the 10M air rifle final with a sizzling finish to claim the gold amidst huge oohs and aahs from the motley crowd.

Chowdhury, who surprisingly captured the lead after the fifth series of shots and led until the penultimate round of attempts, allowed the pressure to get the better of him to sign off with the silver while ace Indian Gagan Narang settled for bronze after an erratic show.

Indians had a lot of reasons to celebrate as Narang, Chain and Imran Hasan Khan took the team gold in the 10M while Neeraj Kumar led a clean sweep of the podium in the 25M standard pistol event. Gurpreet Singh and and Mahender Singh finished second and third respectively and they along with Neeraj obviously took the team gold.

The air rifle final promised another cracking battle between Rio Olympics quota winners Chain and Narang. After the opening set of three shots, Chain set the pace with scores of 9.8, 10.3 and 9.6 while Narang stood third following efforts of 9.9, 10.5 and 10.3. Imran placed himself second (10.6, 10.1, 10.1) as the contest bore an all Indian fight for the podium.

Chain sparkled in his second series (10.6, 10.8, 10.8) to raise the tempo but Narang stayed in reach with shots of 10.1, 10.4, 10.5. Things started to heat up after the fifth series when Chowdhury blasted into the lead after firing a series of 10.8, 10.5, 10.2 and 10.6.

One thought it was a rare bright effort from the Bangladeshi but the 22-year-old kept delivering amidst rising pressure. While Chain always stayed within touching distance of his rival, an erratic Narang kept flirting with elimination after the fifth round of shots. Narang, one of India’s medal prospects at the Rio Olympics, conjured all his experience to claim the bronze at 182.0 leaving Chain and Chowdhury battling for the yellow metal.

With cheers and claps — largely from the Bangladeshi contingent — ringing the room, both Chain and Chowdhury needed to compose themselves before taking aim for the final round of two shots. Trailing Chowdhury by 0.8 points, Chain needed a solid two hits and he delivered, smashing a 10.5 and 10.1. A nervous Chowdhury could only manage 9.8 and 10.6 as a delighted Chain took gold after totalling 204.6.

“I’m really delighted having won four gold medals but not happy with my performance,” said Chain. “My scores were not great at all. I should have shot much better. The focus now, obviously, will be on the Rio Olympics. The next six months is the most crucial period for me and the aim is to win a medal.”

Results: Men: 10M air rifle, individual: Chain Singh (Ind) 204.6, 1; Md Sovon Chowdhury (Ban) 203.6, 2; Gagan Narang (Ind) 182,0, 3.

Team: India (Gagan Narang, Chain Singh, Imran Hasan Khan) 1863.4, 1; Bangladesh (1845.8) 2; Sri Lanka (1827.2) 3.

25M standard  pistol, individual: Neeraj Kumar (Ind) 569-7x, 1; Gurpreet Singh (Ind) 566-11x, 2; Mahender Singh (Ind) 563-12x, 3.

Team: India (Neeraj Kumar, Gurpreet Singh, Mahender Singh) 1698-30x, 1; Pakistan (1663-31x) 2; Sri Lanka (1603-22x) 3.

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