Anjali asserts her class

KAMESH SRINIVASAN

THE support may not quite match her deeds, but Anjali Vedpathak goes about her job with a quiet resolve. The 32-year-old CISF Inspector, only the second Indian woman after P. T. Usha to reach an Olympic final, had been promised a lot, but there has not been any matching action from the authorities.

Anjali Vedpathak was in complete control as she bagged the air rifle and sport rifle 3-position gold medals.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Yet, Anjali, who has made it to four World Cup finals, apart from the memorable fare in Sydney Olympics, has been working diligently on maintaining a consistency that is impressive.

In the National shooting championship at Indore, organised in a professional manner in quality ranges by the Border Security Force (BSF), Anjali asserted her class by bagging the air rifle and sport rifle 3-position gold medals with a degree of assurance.

Anjali took everyone's breath away with a 105.8 in the air rifle final, after a 397 in the preliminary phase. Notwithstanding the fact that she was shooting the paper targets, it was a commendable fare that Anjali returned a series of 10.4, 10.9, 10.4, 10.5, 10.4, 10.2, 10.5, 10.8, 10.8 and 10.9. Even Gaby Buehlmann of Switzerland had shot only a 105.5 when she achieved the world record total of 503.5.

With specialised training under expert coaches on electronic targets, there is no reason why Anjali cannot achieve the world record.

The return of Suma Shirur to the competitive circle, after she had given birth to son Nihal, last September, added considerable thrust to the competition, as she shot a 104.7 after a 396 in the preliminary phase.

The talented Sabeeha Dhillon (392) lost the bronze to Poornima Gawhane with a 8.3 last shot, when the latter came up with a 10.7.

Even in the sport rifle 3-position event, Anjali was a class apart as she shot a 578, four points below her own National record of 582, to keep the rest of the pack at a distance. The 20-year-old Raj Kumari put up a brave fight in the final, but could not catch up with the star shooter.

Raj Kumari had, of course, won a gold in the prone event, ahead of the seasoned Kuheli Gangulee, much to the joy of the Army camp which has been nursing her from 1995 in the kids section of the Army Marksmanship unit in the Infantry School in Mhow, under the able leadership of Col. Girendra Singh. The persons in charge of the rifle and pistol sections, Major A. S. Basur and Major Suryaveer Singh Rajvee have also been working hard in honing the skills of their shooters.

Shilpi Singh is all smiles after winning the 10m air pistol gold.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Among the prominent shooters in the women's section, Anuja Tere was out of form as she was trying a new rifle. She was, however, determined to get back to form in the forthcoming competitions.

In the pistol events, Shilpi Singh came up with a good fare and took the air pistol gold. The 377 she shot was below her best of 381, but Shilpi should be able to perform better in the future.

Army's Saroja Kumari, a mother of two, proved too good in the sport pistol event, as she beat Sarabjeet Kaur with a big margin. Sushma Rana was woefully out of form and could not make an impression in an event in which she holds the National record.

There was a considerable loss of sheen in the men's section, owing to the absence of world junior record holder Abhinav Bindra. The 19-year-old Abhinav was busy competing with the best in the business in Luxembourg, where he claimed three silver medals, two of them behind world champion Dick Boschman of the Netherlands.

Abhinav must have been left wondering as to how Bharat Singh of the Army was able to shoot a 105.1 in the air rifle final, not to forget the superlative effort from Anjali.

But then, there is an overall development in the standard, and it is no surprise that there are more shooting impressive scores. Of course, Bharat's 586 in the preliminary phase was below par, compared to world standards.

Yet, in a classic final when he was tied with Jaspreet Singh Dhaliwal of Punjab after nine shots, Bharat came up with a 10.7 last shot to capture the gold. Jaspreet, an Engineering student, shot a 10.0.

M. T. Sutar of the BSF showed that age does not come in the way. The 53-year-old walked away with the free rifle prone gold, 0.2 points ahead of teammate, M. Shankar, half his age.

Raj Kumari is a picture of concentration in the 50m free rifle prone event. The 20-year-old won the gold in the junior section too, with a new record.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

In the 50m free rifle 3-position event, Bishnu Nag of Navy beat a strong challenge from the Army shooters, for the gold. Abhijeet Konduskar, a third year Chemical Engineering student from the University of Ohio in the U.S., shot a 1,140 to take the gold in the juniors event. It would have been interesting to see him in the final, but he had given entry only for the junior events.

Abhijeet had done well in the prone event too, and the National coach Prof. Sunny Thomas declared that he would take the 20-year-old into the National squad as there was such a provision for champion shooters. With considerable backing from his university in terms of ammunition etc., it should be easy for Abhijeet to fulfil his potential, though education may come in the way.

In the pistol events, Samaresh Jung asserted himself by bagging the air pistol and free pistol gold medals with comfortable margins. The CISF sub-inspector would be one to watch out for in the hectic season ahead.

Ronak Pandit once again established his supremacy by bagging the rapid fire pistol gold ahead of Mukesh Kumar and Poonam Kumar, and would be better off focussing on this event. The 16-year-old proved too good for the juniors in all but one of the pistol events, which underlined his talent. With proper grooming Ronak should be able to make the country proud.

Ace shooter Jaspal Rana claimed the standard pistol gold with usual poise, but was pushed to his wits' end by Mahavir Singh of Army in his pet centrefire pistol event. Jaspal, however, did not compete in the air pistol event, because of the non-cooperation of his teammates from Uttaranchal, who refused to take his lane when the ace marksman was not ready to take it himself. That much for team spirit.

With the return of Dhiren Bhatia, the armourer who wields a laptop computer that helps him in projecting the scores in the finals, there was considerable involvement of the spectators during the climax of the Olympic events. The jam-packed halls were a testimony to the growing interest in the sport. With a little more attention towards building suitable galleries for the spectators, the sport is bound to catch up.

The results: Men:

10-metre air pistol: 1. Samaresh Jung (CISF) 675.3 (575); 2. Umesh Chandra (ITBP) 671.5 (573); 3. Vivek Singh (IA) 669.1 (569).

Samresh Jung (right) won the air pistol and free pistol golds with comfortable margins.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Juniors: 1. Deepak Sharma (Har) 570, 2. Zakir Khan (IA) 563, 3. Amol R. Renke (Mah) 562.

50m free pistol: 1. Samaresh Jung (CISF) 646.6 (552); 2. Vivek Singh (IA) 641.0 (546); 3. Ved Prakash (Army) 629.2 (540).

Juniors: 1. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 535 (NR, old 530); 2. Yogesh D. Sudke (Mah) 526; 3. Zakir Khan (IA) 525.

25-metre rapid fire pistol: 1. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 667.4 (570); 2. Mukesh Kumar (Navy) 664.4 (572); 3. Ram Krishan (Army) 649.6 (557).

Juniors: 1. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 570; 2. Toshinder Singh (IA) 513; 3. Syed Zakir Ali (Del) 509.

25m standard pistol: 1. Jaspal Rana (Utta) 567; 2. Pemba Tamang (Army) 563; 3. Dhyan Singh (Army) 555.

Juniors: 1. Zakir Khan (IA) 538, 2. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 529; 3. Amol. R. Renke (Mah) 521.

25m centrefire pistol: 1. Jaspal Rana (Utta) 584, 2. Mahavir Singh (Army) 583, 3. Ved Prakash (Army) 579.

Bharat Singh (left), who won the 10m air rifle gold, is congratulated by Jaspreet Singh, who finished runner-up.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Juniors: 1. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 558, 2. Zakir Khan (IA) 555, 3. Manoj Kumar (Army) 550.

25m sport pistol (juniors): 1. Ronak Pandit (Mah) 571; 2. Zakir Khan (IA) 561; 3. Syed Zakir Ali (Del) 554.

10m air rifle: 1. Bharat Singh (Army) 691.1 (586); 2. Jaspreet Singh (Punj) 690.4 (589); 3. Sriram S. Konar (Mah) 688.9 (585).

Juniors: 1. Abhijeet Konduskar (Mah) 583; 2. Imran Hasan (Army) 580; 3. Mangesh V. Mane (Mah) 575.

50m free rifle 3-position: 1. Bishnu Nag (Navy) 1237.0 (1142); 2. Ashok Kumar (Army) 1234.8 (1143); 3. Dilip Sawant (Army) 1231.1 (1139).

Juniors: 1. Abhijeet Konduskar (Mah) 1140; 2. Kuldeep Singh (Army) 1121; 3. Surendra Singh Rathore (Army) 1115.

50m free rifle prone: 1. M. T. Sutar (BSF) 689.3 (589); 2. M. Shankar (BSF) 689.1 (103.1); 3. Ashok Kumar (Army) 688.8 (100.8).

Juniors: 1. Abhijeet Konduskar (Mah) 587, 2. Rajesh kumar (Army) 581, 3. Sudhir Kumar (Army) 579.

Women:

10m air pistol: 1. Shilpi Singh (CISF) 475.2 (377); 2. Baljeet Kaur (Army) 471.7 (374); 3. Saroja Kumari (Army) 467.9 (368).

Navy's Bishnu Nag beat a strong challenge from the Army shooters for the 50m free rifle 3-position gold.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Juniors: 1. Charu Pragya (Mah) 368, 2. Anu Raj Singh (IA) 364, 3. Seema Tomar (IA) 363.

25m sport pistol: 1. Saroja Kumari (Army) 659.2 (563); 2. Sonia Rana (CISF) 654.6 (562); 3. Baljeet Kaur (Army) 653.7 (560).

Juniors: 1. Shweta Chaudhary (IA) 544; 2. Seema Tomar (IA) 537; 3. Neha Sharma (UP) 531.

10m air rifle: 1. Anjali Vedpathak (CISF) 502.8 (397); 2. Suma Shirur (Rlys) 500.7 (396); 3. Poornima Gawhane (Rlys) 496.2 (394).

Juniors: 1. Chetanpreet Kaur (Punj) 393; 2. Sabeeha Dhillon (Punj) 392; 3. Meena Kumari (Inf) 389.

50m sport rifle 3-position: 1. Anjali Vedpathak (Mah) 672.3 (578); 2. Raj Kumari (Inf) 669.0 (572); 3. Kuheli Gangulee (CISF) 666.1 (571).

Juniors: 1. Raj Kumari (Inf) 572 (NR, old 569); 2. Meena Kumari (Inf) 570; 3. Sharda Thapa (Inf) 560.

50m free rifle prone: 1. Raj Kumari (Inf) 588, 2. Kuheli Gangulee (CISF) 585, 3. Chaitali Das (WB) 583.

Juniors: 1. Raj Kumari (Inf) 588 (NR, old 586); 2. V. Sindhu (Ker) 579; 3. M. Dhareenee (TN) 577.