India had reasons to be happy that the Commonwealth Games 2018 schedule in Gold Coast did not take a leaf out of Olympic sport bosses’ idea of removing 50m pistol and double trap events from the Tokyo Games in 2020. Each of India’s three medals on Wednesday came from these very events, with Shreyasi Singh winning a memorable gold in women’s double trap shoot off.
Curiously, the strength of the mind came into the spotlight with each of these successes.
Shreyasi Singh, 26, would have resigned herself to finishing second behind Austalian Emma Cox after scoring 96/120 and with the home favourite needed to score 19/30 in her final round to win gold. The Australian was looking in great control but managed to engineer a meltdown that saw her miss 12 shots and allow a shoot-off for the final.
The Indian would have had five minutes or so to compose herself, taking her mind away from the stroke of luck coming her way and to get mentally ready for the shoot-off. On the contrary, Cox would have found it fairly impossible to battle the demons that would have been causing much cacophony in her mind.
If Shreyasi was not the one to look at the gift horse in its mouth and beat Cox in the shoot-off, Ankur Mittal added another instance where he let go of a lead in the final and settled for a lesser medal. Having taken silver in the World Championship in Moscow after holding the lead till the final four shots, he picked up only a bronze, dropping three shots in his last 10.
With a host of shot gun coaches around with the Indian team in Gold Coast, it is disappointing that Ankur Mittal allowed his concentration to waver, even if an official spoke to him after the first 50 shots had been completed and only three shooters were in the fray. It is perhaps an indication that the coaches need to help him overcome this frustrating habit of losing his grip on proceedings.
Om Prakash Mitharval, just 22 and shooting in his second final, could have taken a shot at the 50m pistol gold but appeared to let his mind waver just that bit when he was assured of another medal. His two shots worth just 7.2 and 7.6 points left him out of contention for a better medal. His army teammate and the experienced Jitu Rai’s weariness was evident as he bowed out early.
Talking of mental strength and resolve, the Indian men’s hockey team showed that in good measure as it rallied from a 0-1 deficit at the half-time to beat England 4-3 with three goals in the final quarter, including two in the final couple of minutes. This kind of win will spur the side when it takes on New Zealand in the semifinals but the team will have to be wary of its defensive lapses.
There was no sign of the guard dropping when veteran MC Mary Kom was on view. The ace boxer and all eight men in the team have made it to the medal rounds. In fact, the five-time world champion and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal winner Mary Kom entered the final of the 48kg class with a facile win over 39-year-old Sri Lankan Anusha Dilrukshi.
The Indian ace played the waiting game and scored at every opportunity to be able to convince all five judges to give her identical 30-27 decisions. She thus became the first Indian boxer to get into the final at the Commonwealth Games and ensured that she would be in the title bout on appearance in the Games.
Pinki Rani Jangra was perhaps a bit unlucky not to land an extra blow or two on her English rival Lisa Whiteside and lost narrowly. The 27-year-old from Hisar gained the upper hand in the opening round but Whisteside was more impressive in the second round. That seemed to load the odds against the Indian whose efforts in the third round did not produce dividends.
The Indian racquet sport teams had a productive day on the badminton and squash courts and in the table tennis arena. Veteran Sharath Kamal, hero of the men’s team gold win in table tennis, survived a scare against Javen Choong (Malaysia) in a seven-game thriller to enter the men's singles last 16 stage.
At the end of a long day, two of India’s youngest track and field athletes — high jumper Tejaswin Shankar and women’s 400m runner Hima Das — caused many hearts to flutter with pride and expectation but they both finished sixth in their finals. Tejaswin, 19, would be disappointed that he could not clear 2.27m, a height that he has jumped over at least twice this season.
Hima Das, the 18-year-old from Assam who switched from shorter sprints to try her luck in the 400m quite recently, gave the final 70m of the quartermile her everything to finish sixth in 51.31 seconds, the second time in two days that she had lowered her personal best time. A day after Muhammad Anas Yahiya finished fourth in the men’s 400m, these two teenagers put a smile on many faces, even if India has drawn a blank from track and field sport so far.
Long jumpers Nayana James and Neena Pinto were given tickets to the final after only four women went past the 6.60m mark to secure automatic qualification. Nayana James’ best effort of 6.34m and Neena Pinto’s 6.18m were the ninth and 12th best jumps and fetched them berths in the final where they will have to be at their very best to stay in the frame till late in the competition.
With 24 medals already in the bag and with nine more assured from the boxing ring and with wrestlers yet to enter the fray, the Indian contingent will be aware that it has some work to do if it is to match the 64-medal effort at Glasgow 2014. There is a good possibility that another teenager, 25m rapid fire pistol shooter Anish Bhanwala may be among those who capture hearts on Thursday with a possible show of his mental strength.
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Updated Date: Apr 11, 2018 20:25:20 IST