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September 15, 2000
Indian shooters aim to be in medal bracket
Harpal Singh Bedi
India will take the first shot for a medal at the Olympics shooting event with Anjali Vedpathak and Anwar Sultan, at the Cecil Park shooting centre in Sydney on Saturday.
Last minute entrant wild card holder Vedpathak and qualifier Anwar will be seen in action in the women's air rifle and men's trap events respectively.
The first gold medal of the Olympics will be awarded Saturday in the women's air tifle event.
Vedpathak, Anwar and junior world record holder Abhinav Bindra are the Indian medal prospects in the mega show. Expectations are high particularly on Anwar and Abhinav, who have done extremely well in international events during the past one year.
The 38-year-old Anwar qualified during the ninth Asian shooting championship held in Langkawi, Malaysia, in January this year. He shot 119 for a silver medal in the trap event.
He had a practice-cum-competition trip to Italy. Trap coach Marcello Dradi said, ''Anwar is the best bet. He will be performing at his peak.''
National Rifle Assocation of India secretary general Baljeet Singh Sethi said that if they perform to their potential they will be in the medal bracket.
"Anwar has the temperament to come up trumps on big occasions and that's important in an Olympics. With a little bit of luck, he will be in the medal range,'' said Italian coach Dradi.
Anwar finished ninth in the Italian championship with a score of 115/125, in which the gold medal winner had posted 118.
Vedpathak, who made it to Sydney through a hardship quota, has performed consistently in recent months. The 30-year-old had won the gold in the Commonwealth Games with a score of 396. The world record in the event is 399/400.
She figured in the finals of the world cups and missed the qualifying mark by 0.8 points. In fact, she had never scored below 395. ''If she maintains her form, she will be in the finals,'' Dradi said.
Abhinav Bindra, the youngest marksman at the games, had equalled the world record in junior event by scoring 596/600 during Munich World Cup in June 2000.
The Chandigarh-based 17-year-old was also awarded a hardship qouta by the International Shooting Sport Federation in the air rifle event. He also won a bronze medal at the Asian Shooting Championships in Langkawi with a score of 592/600.
Dradi rated Michael Diamond of Australia and Pelliello of Italy as favourites in Sydney. Russian Alipiov, Portugal's Rebello and Italian Venturini are also in the reckoning.
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