Young guns Gagan Narang and Sanjeev Rajput could not rise above mediocrity and were shown the exit in the qualifying round of the 50m Rifle Prone shooting event at the Beijing Olympics on Friday.
After Thursday's incessant rain, a refreshingly blue sky hung over the Beijing Shooting Range but the gloom in the Indian camp persisted with Sanjeev (591) finishing 26th and Narang (589), an unflattering 35th in the 56-shooter field.
The event was won by Ukraine's Artur Ayvazian, who scored a total of 702.7 points.
The United States' Matthew Emmons won the silver medal with a total of 701.7 and Australia's Warren Potent won the bronze medal with a total of 700.5.
Ayvazian was the highest-scoring shooter in the qualification round with a total of 599, one point shy of a perfect score. Emmons finished the qualification round in second place with a total of 597.
Gagan, who almost made it to the final in the 10m Air Rifle before eventually losing on the count back, had an average start with identical 98s before firing 99 in the third series.
Whatever hopes he had, however, went up in smoke in the fourth series, a dismal 96. He signed off with 99 and 99 in the last two segments could not put his campaign back on track.
In Sanjeev'scase, his campaign was botched right at the start. In the top half of the field where 99 seemed the norm and anything below that poor, Sanjeev shot 97 to start with and despite his best efforts, the youngster just could not fire himself into contention for a berth in the final.
His second and third series of 100 and 99 did help him climb through the cluttered leader-board but with his scores in the last three series reading 98, 99 and 98,it was just not enough for him to be among the top eight who made it to the business end of the event.
Gagan later said since failing to make it to the final of the 10mAir Rifle he was not in the best frame of mind.
"Itwas very difficult to pick myself up from that stage. I came so close to reach the final and yet failed. For me, the Olympics was over then and there," a dejected Gagan said.
"Anyway, I have another event (50m Rifle 3 Position)the day after tomorrow and I'll give my hundred per cent," he added.
Theshooter from Hyderabad was also unhappy with the state of affairs in Indian shooting, particularly with the contingent's preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
"Idid not say all this earlier because people would have thought we were making excuses even before competing in the Olympics.
"Butthe fact remains that we did not have enough ammunition and this is not the way you compete with world class shooters," he said.