It was gold or nothing for Abhinav Bindra. The former World and Olympic champion made a vibrant attack on the medals in the men’s air rifle final, but the sub-10 shots caught up with him at the crunch, as Bindra was beaten in the shoot-off for a medal and placed fourth at the Deodoro Olympic Shooting Range on Monday.
Tied on 163.8 after 16 shots with the eventual silver medallist Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine, Bindra shot a 10.0 to the 10.5 by Kulish.
Bindra walked away from the scene, for one last time, to his coach Heinz Reinkemier, and tried to glance at the audience to gauge the impact of his elimination. Quite interestingly, Gaby Buehlmann of Switzerland who had coached Bindra to the gold during the Beijing Games, was with Niccolo Campriani of Italy this time, and the silver medallist of the London Games graduated to the gold.
It was the second Olympic gold for Campriani as he had won the rifle 3-position gold in the London Games. Buehlmann got a congratulatory hug from her husband,
Heinz Reinkemier! They were two of the finest coaches to have honed Bindra to top class standard over the years.
For the 33-year-old Bindra, the final was a far cry from the manner in which he had earlier ensured qualification into his third Olympic final with a blitzkrieg in the climax. Even in the final, Bindra recovered from a sedate start to shoot the 10.7s and 10.8s, but four 9s pulled him out.
Abhinav BindraEarlier in the day, Bindra had shot four 10.8s before the last shot of 10.4 to make the final. Even as the London Games bronze medallist Gagan Narang crashed to the 23rd spot with a total of 621.7, after a very promising start when he had rounds of 105.3 and 104.5,
Bindra stepped it up slowly to shoot the required numbers for a total of 625.7 that placed him in the seventh place ahead of Illia Charheika of Belarus. Bindra shot four 10.8s, as against a maximum possible 10.9, on the trot and wound up with a 10.4.
He had taken a break after the fourth series, to talk to coach Heinz Reinkemeier, and have a sip of water.
On resumption, Bindra struggled to strike a similar rhythm and had the lowest total of 102.1 in the fifth series.
He bounced back in the climax, with a 10.7 first shot in the sixth series, and did not shoot below 10.3 afterwards, with the 10.8s ensuring his entry into the final.
Notable among the shooters who failed to make the final were the Asian Games silver medallist Cao Yifei of China; the London Games goldmedallist Alin George Moldoveanu of Romania (622.7) and the 20-year-old Yang Haoran of China (620.5), the reigning World champion and Youth Olympics champion.
In trap, former World champion and six-time Asian champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu shot 115, following a series of 23, 23, 22, 25 and 22, as he missed the final by three points.
The 39-year-old Manavjit looked to recover lost ground with a perfect 25 in the fourth round in the morning, but a 22 in the last saw him match his previous Olympic journey.
The young Kynan Chenai, making his Olympic debut, shot 114, for the 19th spot in a field of 33 shooters, following a series of 22, 23, 22, 24 and 23.