Rio de Janeiro: Abhinav Bindra narrowly missed out on a medal after finishing fourth in the final of the men’s 10 metre air rifle final at the Olympic Shooting Centre here on Monday.
Bindra started well, but a couple of wayward shots cost him dearly as he lost in the bronze medal play-off to finish fourth with a total score of 163.8 points.
Monday’s disappointment will see the curtains come down on the glittering career of the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist — India’s only individual Olympic gold — as he has earlier announced his plans of international retirement after the Rio Olympics.
Participating in his fifth Olympics, the 33-year-old got off to a good start with scores of 29.9 and 30.2 in the first two series placing him in the top three.
He fell to the fourth spot after a relatively poor 21.1 in the third series with a total score of 81.2. But luck favoured Bindra in the fourth series as he climbed to second with 21.5 as the other shooters in the top four also faltered.
However, Bindra seemed to let the pressure get to him as his performance started to go downhill from there. The former World Champion registered progressively poorer scores of 20.8, 20.2 in the next two series.
A brilliant series of high 10s saw him go up to second after 11 shots and third after 12.
He maintained the position till the 14th shot but a couple of poor shots saw him score 20.1 in what would eventually be his final series and tied at fourth with Ukranian Serhiy Kulish after the 16th shot.
In the shoot-off that followed, Bindra could manage only a 10.0 while the Ukranian shot a brilliant 10.5 to move ahead, thus relegating the Indian to the fourth place.
“I think I did my best but a medal was not to be. It was a tough field. Somebody had to finish fourth and I did. Well I think thats the way it is. I gave it all. It was good day a hard day. Could have been better with a medal,” a dejected Bindra said later.
Earleir, Bindra finished seventh to qualify for the 10 metre air rifle quarter-finals while it was heartbreak for Gagan Narang, who finished a lowly 23rd in the qualification round.
Bindra shot a cumulative score of 625.7 to end at the seventh spot and book his berth in the last eight, the competitions for which will be held later in the day.
Bindra found himself at the 10th spot after scoring 104.3 at the end of the first series but dropped to 11th in the second with a cumulative score of 208.7.
Bindra picked pace in the third series to vault to the second position with a score of 314.6 but drastically dropped after sixth with some poor shots.
At the end of the fourth series, Bindra moved to fifth to be on course for qualification. However, the fifth round went horribly wrong for India’s flag-bearer in the Rio opening ceremony, who slipped to 10th.
In the final series, he brought himself back in contention to sit at eighth after a 10.8 in his sixth shot to finally book his berth for the quarter-finals.
Also, trap shooters Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai crashed out of the race to the semi-finals after finishing 16th and 19th later on Monday.
Sandhu, in his fourth Olympics, lost out after scoring a cumulative total of 115 while Chenai scored one less to be out of the fray on the second day of qualifications at the Olympic Shooting centre.
(Hardev Sanotra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)