Rio de Janeiro, Aug 10 (IANS) Indian shooter Jitu Rai was decidedly downhearted after crashing out of the 50 metre Pistol Men’s event in the qualification round at the Rio Olympics here on Wednesday.
Jitu’s campaign ended on a disappointing note after he finished 12th to miss the finals of the event at the Olympic Shooting centre here.
“I let my country down. There was wind, but I won’t make excuses,” a visibly upset Jitu said while speaking after crashing out.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) President Raninder Singh also termed Jitu’s elimination as “shocking”.
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 finals berth.
Reacting to the elimination, Raninder said he had never seen Jitu firing a meagre 88 in a final series.
“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 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 awardee shooter and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Randhir Singh also found Jitu’s performance surprising.
“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 contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)