India's Olympic campaign began on a dismal note, as the shooting trio of Anjali Bhagwat, Avneet Kaur Sidhu and Samresh Jung, considered the country's best bets for a medal, fell by the wayside in the qualifying
rounds in Beijing on Saturday.
Anjali's experience and the verve of Avneet, making her Olympic debut, were not enough to see them it to the business end of 10m air rifle event, as they finished 29th and 39th respectively.
Samresh, on the other hand, could not replicate his 2006 Commonwealth Games performance which earned him the moniker 'Goldfinger'. He had scores of 92,95,96,98,96 and 93 for a total 570, which placed him a lowly 42nd in the air pistol event.
Anjali, who is toiling these days for her pet event, the 50m Rifle 3 Position, scored 393, while Avneet totalled 389 at the Beijing Shooting Hall Range.
Anjali began well and looked impressive in her first two attempts before losing the plot. She shot 99 in the first two but things went haywire in the third visit, where she first 97, before signing off with 98, which was just not enough to make the cut for the eight-shooter final.
"I was going well but had some problem with my body movement. I sort of stabilised myself but that cost me some time and I was under pressure subsequently," a dejected Anjali later said.
Anjali had less than eight minutes to finish her last series of 10 shots and the shooter was clearly in a hurry to finish in time.
"I could not have shot faster in the first two series; that would have hampered my rhythm. But, at the same time, I had to speed up.
"I did not expect a miracle here but, anyway, it's water under the bridge now," she said.
Avneet too didn't have a bad start and she shot a perfect 100 in the second series as well. But an uneven third series of 96 shook her confidence and she finished with 95 for a total of 389.
"Once I shot a nine in the third series, it really unnerved me. Suddenly I realised I could not afford to make any more mistakes and that affected my subsequent performance," said the Arjuna awardee.
"I think I lacked that mental strength. The competition standard was in fact lower than say World Cup but I just could not be in full control of my mind.
"Still, it was a good experience and now I know the areas I need to work on," she said.