Rio de Janeiro, Aug 10 (IANS) “I let my country down. There was wind but I don’t want to make any excuses,” a dejected Jitu Rai told reporters after finishing 12th at the 50m Pistol Men’s event in the qualification round at the Olympic Shooting centre here.
The armyman consistently managed to hit the bull’s eye on nine occasions in what is considered as his pet event and his cumulative scores after the six series qualification round read 92, 95, 90, 94, 95 and 88 to total 554. But a poor sixth and final series cost him the berth to the finals.
He has never scored a low of 88 in any championship. Last four scores at Rio were 8, 8, 7 and 10. The three low scores took away his entry into the finals, although in the earlier series he had consistently scored highs, remaining in the top eight throughout. Only eight shooters go through to the finals.
After his last series, and the disastrous scores, Jitu Rai came and sat down in the chair behind, as if he had been hit. He perhaps couldn’t believe that he had botched it up in just three shots out of a total of 60.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) President Raninder Singh on Wednesday termed shooter Jitu Rai’s elimination from the ongoing Rio Olympics as “shocking”.
Reacting to the elimination, Singh said he had never seen Jitu firing such a low score, at least in the last three years.
“I am absolutely surprised. I don’t know what to say. I have never seen Jitu Rai shoot like this in the closing minute. Perhaps he totally misread the wind. I can understand one shot going awry. But three? This is totally out of the blue. He was doing so well in the other series. To get 88 in the last one is unheard of from him,” Singh said.
Raninder, who’s an executive committee member of the International Shooting Sport Federation, was sad at the way both Jitu and Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Abhinav Bindra’s campaign ended at Rio. On Monday, Bindra finished a disappointing fourth in 10m Air Rifle shoot-out in what was his swansong campaign.
“We had two great medal hopes, Bindra and Rai. And both have disappointed. It’s really disheartening to see them in a touch and go position. Bindra’s medal slipped out of our hands, and Jitu’s shooting in the last few shots were absolutely inexplicable,” he said.
Arjuna Award winner and International Olympic Committee member Randhir Singh said he was out of words to explain what happened with Jitu Rai.
“I found the the last few shots of Jitu absolutely shocking. I cannot explain what happened today. After a great performance in the earlier series to have a meltdown like this. Who had expected that?”
Earlier on Saturday, Jitu had made it to the finals of the men’s 10m Air Pistol event but could not get into medal contention.
Another Indian shooter Prakash Nanjappa also finished a lowly 25th to crash out of the quadrennial extravaganza on Wednesday.
(Hardev Sanotra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)