London: Ace rifleman Gagan Narang put India into the medal bracket by shooting a bronze in his pet 10 metre air rifle event even as his illustrious compatriot and defending champion Abhinav Bindra misfired at the London Olympics here Monday.
Narang, 29, participating in his third Games, had a total score of 701.1 (598 qualifying, 103.1 final) to finish third at the Royal Artillery Barracks range, triggering celebrations among the Indian Diaspora here and the countrymen back home.
However, it proved to be a mixed day for India, as Olympic debutant Vishnu Vardhan went down in straight sets to Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic in the first round of tennis competition, while woman archer Bombayla Devi bit the dust in the round of 32 of the individual event.
However, boxer Sumit Sangwan seemed unlucky as he went down 14-15 under controversial circumstances to Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino in the round of 32 of 81kg category.
Narang, who missed the final round in Beijing Games on a countback, was in his elements. In the final round, he had a series of 10.7, 9.7, 10.6, 10.7, 10.4, 10.6, 9.9, 9.5, 10.3 and 10.7 to give India its first medal from the London Games.
The gold went to Romanian Alin George Moldoveanu with a total score of 702.1 (599 qualifying, 103.1 final) and Italian Niccolo Campriani bagged the silver with 701.5 (599 qualifying, 102.5 final).
It was the third time in row that Indian shooters had won medals at the Olympics. Double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver in 2004, Bindra gave India a historic gold in Beijing, and now Narang has bagged a bronze in London.
Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, failed to qualify as he shot 594 to finish 16th out of 47 contestants.
In the qualifying round, Narang shot perfect series of 100 in all the rounds except the third when he scored 98. He also shot 53 inner 10s.
Bindra said luck deserted him during the qualification round of the 10 metres air rifle event at the 2012 London Games here Monday.
“Time was running out and I had to take some risks. Needed a little luck for some shots and I didn’t get it. I am disappointed, but love the sport, love shooting so am sure I’ll continue. I think I did a reasonable job. I could have retired on a high after the Bejing gold but that would have been the easy way out,” Bindra told reporters.
Narang’s success has added to India’s less than impressive medal count – which now stands at 21 comprising nine golds, four silvers and eight bronzes – in Olympics history.
Indian Davis Cupper Vardhan’s dream outing in the Olympic men’s singles clash was short-lived as he went down in straight sets to Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic .
Vardhan, who was lucky to get a slot in the men’s singles event at the eleventh hour as German Phillip Kohlschreiber pulled out due to a hamstring injury, lost 3-6, 2-6 in one hour and 12 minutes.
The 25-year-old will now partner Leander Paes in the men’s doubles and the Indian pair takes on the Dutch duo of Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer later in the day. At the historic Lords, Bombayla paid the penalty for erratic shooting to lose her pre-quarter final against Mexico’s Aida Roman 2-6 and bowed out of the reckoning.
Earlier in the day, Bombayla raised the countrymen’s hopes by scraping past Evangelia Psarra of Greece 6-4 in her opening match. Chekrowolu Swuro plays her first match Tuesday while World No. 1 Deepika Kumari Wednesday.
In the ring, the 19-year-old Sangwan fought valiantly and should have won more points but the judges thought otherwise. Television commentators were surprised by the verdict and called it “daylight robbery”.