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September 16, 2000
Anjali sparkles with top eight finish
K Jagannadha Rao
Ace Indian shooter Anjali Vedpathak on Saturday made history by becoming the first Indian to figure in the final of the Olympic Games Shooting competition. She finished a higly-creditable eighth in the women's 10 metre Air Rifle event.
The 30-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist fired a stunning score of 99.1 in the eight-woman final round to tie with South Korean markswoman Choi Dae-Young on 493.1 points. But her preliminary round score of 394.0, one less than Choi's, placed her in the eighth position.
How close the competition was could be judged from the fact that the gold medal winner Nancy Johnson of the United States tallied 497.7 and Anjali was just 4.6 points adrift.
Johnson won the gold medal with Korea's Kang Cho-Hyun (497.5) and Gao Jing (497.2) of China, settling for silver and bronze medals respectively.
Anjali, who earned a hardship quota to the Olympics after her consistent performance in the World Cup events in the run up to the Olympics, shot confidently but achieved a modest 394 earlier in the day to make the finals at the Sydney International Shooting Centre.
The Indian woman, who performed better at this very range when competing in the Sydney World Cup in March, by tallying 495.5 (396+99.5), was up against the likes of favourite German Sonja Pfeilschifter and Nancy Johnson of the United States.
Anjali's performance was, however, below her best.
The Indian has a personal best of 500.4 (396+104.4), shot at Kathmandu SAF Games last year. This year she scored 496.1 at the Asian Shooting Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.
There was further disappointment for the Indian camp as another hope - Anwar Sultan - crashed out in the preliminary stage of the men's Trap event.
Anwar, who earned a direct berth into the Games after winning a silver medal at the Langkawi championships in January, could hit only 63 birds off 75 to be placed joint 27th with four others and bowed out.
Completely unable to come to terms with the conditions and overawed by the occasion, Anwar shot 22, 20 and 21 for a poor aggregate of 63 to be way down the table.
Anjali later told reporters that she was nervous initially. But as the day progressed, she gained confidence.
"I think I can do much better if the infrastructure at home improves," she said and added that improvement in the ranges had to be done if India wanted its shooters to win medals in the 2002 Asian Games.
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