Monday, Jun 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Abhinav Bindra, who grabbed a Olympic quota place with a bronze medal effort in the World Cup shooting championship at Munich on Sunday.
Of the eight finalists, five had already got the Olympic quota, and Abhinav on 596 was competing with two others, one each from Korea and Slovenia, who were also on the same score, for the solitary spot.
In an outstanding final, Abhinav shot a 103.9 to not only get ahead of his immediate competitors who were vying for the quota, but also a couple of others who may have thought that the medals were firmly in their grasp.
Abhinav had a series of 99, 100, 100, 99, 100 and 98 in the preliminary phase and a brilliant sequence of 10.6, 9.4, 10.5, 10.5, 10.8, 10.3, 10.5, 10.4, 10.3 and 10.6 in the final.
Jason Parker of the US, who had shot a 599 in the preliminary phase, shot a 103.5 in the final to take the gold at 702.5, a World Record. The previous record was held by Leif Steinar Rolland of Norway, who shot a 702.4 in the World Cup in Seoul in 2001. Parker had won the Olympic quota in the World Cup back home in Atlanta last year, when Anjali Vedpathak Bhagwat clinched the first quota place for India in women's air rifle.
Konstantin Prikhodtchenko of Russia got the silver with a 700.5 as he followed a 599, with a 101.5. The Russian had won his quota in the 50m free rifle 3-position event in Sydney last year.
In such a scenario, it was indeed an amazing effort by Abhinav to have caught up with the best, despite a three-point deficit going into the final. Abhinav ended up with a 699.9, a mere 0.6 points away from the silver.
In the process, Abhinav pipped Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia by 0.3 point, for the quota place. It was as close as that in the final analysis. Debevec must be feeling what Deepali Deshpande felt when she missed the Olympic quota by a 0.3 point margin in Fort Benning.
It was the second bronze medal in a World Cup for Abhinav, who had achieved his first at the same venue in Munich two years ago when he accomplished the task with a World Junior record of 597. The record still stands against his name.
In a season of mixed fortunes, Abhinav had been shooting extremely well in the international competitions, and had even touched a World Record of a perfect 600 once in the US where he is pursuing his studies along with shooting. However, when it came to the World Cups in Fort Benning and Zagreb, Abhinav had been shooting below par.
However, the 19-year-old was quite confident that he was doing the right things, and that he would achieve the quota soon.
Of course, Abhinav's father Dr. A.S. Bindra was a nervous man back home in Chandigarh, and hailed his son's feat with great relief.
Gagan Narang shot a 593 with a series of 98, 100, 99, 100, 99 and 97 for the joint 20th spot in a field of 129 shooters. Sameer Ambekar shot a 588 to be joint 56th. Shooting for MQS, Sandeep Tarate had an impressive 594.
There was not much cheer for India in the men's air pistol event, as Ronak Pandit (576), Jaspal Rana (572) and Samaresh Jung (565) failed to make the final by a long shot.
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