'Two-three low scores pulled me down but then my belief helped me'
Jitu Rai says he believed unflinchingly, unquestionably in his ability to stage a comeback and win the men's 10m air pistol gold after a rather average qualifying outing in the 21st Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast, on Monday.
"Frankly speaking, my qualification score was not very good, but I had 100 per cent faith in my ability that I can do it, because I have done well in the finals and won many medals in the past. My belief was unflinching," the unassuming Rai said.
The World Championship silver medallist broke the CWG record (235.1) to claim the top prize by some distance in the finals after being placed fourth in the qualification phase with 570.
"Two-three low scores pulled me down but then my belief helped me. That makes me really happy. So, I was confident of covering it in the finals and I never back off. So again, I am reaping the rewards of all the hard word work I have put in during training."
Rai's less fancied compatriot Om Prakash Mitharval shattered the qualification record with a 584 but could not match the senior pro in the decisive stage.
Young Mehuli Ghosh settled for a silver medal after forcing a shoot-off in the women's 10m air rifle event with a perfect final shot of 10.9 while defending champion Apurvi Chandela secured bronze.
Asked about what looked like a premature celebration by her when she thought she had won a gold following that 10.9, Ghosh said, "It was my mistake. I was so focused on the game I didn't notice it was only a shoot-off."
The 17-year-old, who trains at Olympian Joydeep Karmakar's academy in Kolkata, added, "It was my first Commonwealth Games. I'm happy but definitely not satisfied."
On her plans for future competitions, she said, "I will try harder next time. I know I can do more and will try my best."
The air rifle finals witnessed an exciting a climax as Ghosh, at 17 years of age, ensured a shoot-off with Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso, the eventual gold medallist and one who displayed imperious form all along, and so was Ghosh.
Both Veloso and Ghosh shot a Games record 247.2 before the Singaporean had the last laugh with a 10.3 in the shoot-off as her Indian rival managed 9.9 at the Belmont Shooting Centre.
Chandela had earlier smashed her own Commonwealth Games qualifying record from four years back by scoring 423.2.
On her performance Chandela said, "Very good overall, a medal for my country again. Maybe a few shots could have been better, but overall I am happy with my medal."