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How we almost missed the mark

Beijing, Aug. 11: While Abhinav Bindra was shooting his way to glory, many Indian journalists had thronged to watch the country’s bright young medal hope.

Not Bindra but shuttler Saina Nehwal. At a venue several kilometres away.

The choice had been made with careful deliberation and sporting logic. Or so we thought.

The fancied shooters had all disappointed so far. In women’s team archery, where a bronze had seemed a certainty, India fell to China in the quarters.

In badminton, though, the plucky Saina had set up a pre-quarter-final against Chen Wang of Hong Kong, the world No. 5. So that’s where most of us went this morning. Seated snugly, we were watching the Indian world No. 15 match her rival shot for shot when a text message arrived from the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

It was great news. Abhinav had qualified for the 10m air rifle.

The bad news was, the final would start straightaway. And the shooting range was at the opposite end of the city.

It was 11.50am (local time) when we rushed out of the stadium. Some jumped onto the media buses, the rest ran to catch taxis (which do not necessarily take you faster, after the crucial minutes wasted trying to enlighten the driver about where exactly you wish to go).

It was about 12.40 when the first group of reporters reached the shooting range, just in time to catch the last seconds of the action. Some straggled in at the news conference.

Had the stoical Bindra known, he might have permitted himself a wide grin.

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