The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hope dies early death
- Anjali finishes a poor 20th; Shuma flatters to deceive in finals

Athens: Indiaís golden girls arenít so glittering after all. There was a huge focus of expectation at shooters Anjali Bhagwat and Shuma Shirur. It was as if not winning an Olympic medal would have been a disaster.

Well, a disaster it has been, so far. As the hills took in the blazing sun at the Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Complex this Saturday, one slowly got to know that the dailies of the morning of Independence Day will not carry enough good news from the Athens Olympic Games.

Anjali managed a poor 20th spot and failed to move into the finals, which, at least she was supposed to, while Shirur did make the final but finished eighth out of eight.

On any other year this would have been a decent result for the shooters. But here they were, expecting a medal, and the dip in form now canít be explai- ned.

Anjali wasnít focused. She was letting it down every round in the womenís 10m air rifle event. She started with a 96 in her first qualifying round series, went up to 100, but failed to keep that momentum and slipped to 98 and 99, ending at 393, way below her ability.

A 20th spot so disgusted the shooter that she left in a huff, not speaking to anybody.

Shuma, on the other hand, qualified at seventh spot. It was a show that promised more in the final. However, the final was a letdown.

She pushed the first round to 99 but slipped to 98 in the second. In a race where maxing a score isnít that big a deal any more and where 99 is the lowest allowable for a medal hope, this was bad.

Shuma banged it onto 100 in the third round, and made a 99 in the fourth.

However, her second round slip cost her dear. The overall level of the competition can be judged from the fact that Shuma finished eighth with 396, and the Olympic record had stood at 397 (in the name of Petra Horneber of Germany) before the meet.

Also, gold winner Li Du of China actually scored 398, below silver winner Lioubov Galkina of Russia.

But then with many ties of total score, 11-round final shots were fired and while Li hit 104.0 (for a total of 502.0), Galkina hit 102.5 (for a total of 501.5).

Probably the luck of the draw. The Olympic record was given a decent burial and Shirur (497.2 after final shots) was eighth, just 4.8 off the gold winner. The bronze came at 501.1 to Katerina Kurkova of the Czech Repulic.

Shuma said she was happy at her performance.

ďI think it is good for me. Whatever I have achieved at the Olympic level has satisfied me. It is a very big stage, the biggest anywhere, and I have done the best I could. Sure I can improve on this, but I donít feel that I have let myself do- wn,Ē she said, flashing a smile.

After the stiff fight that was, she canít be blamed, though the fact remained that medal hopes have started getting distant, even from the first day of competitions.

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