Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary topped qualification stage 1 in the 10m air pistol mixed team event, but finished seventh in stage 2, missing out on the top-four finish required to advance to the medal matches.
The two young shooters, however, did not lose poise in the face of their struggle at the Tokyo Olympics. After their event on Tuesday, they fielded probing questions and did not shy away.
Thoughts on your performance, can you believe what happened?
Manu: Believe... it does not matter whether we believe it or not, it has happened already. Yes, I think I tried way too hard. I think sometimes you don't have control over things. Either when we try way too hard or expect things. This was our first Olympic games, and we have a long journey ahead.
Is it a big disappointment? Did the buildup add pressure?
Saurabh: No, it’s not like that. We did what we could do. No, the hype does not add pressure.
How was the experience of your first Olympics?
Saurabh: We have played in the youth Olympics also. It is very similar to this - there is a games village, a range and there is nothing new. Range mein target hai, pistol hai, hum hai, goli hai, aur kya alag hai? (There is a target in the range, we are there with our guns and bullets. There's nothing different.)
Manu: My answer would be the same. We don’t usually have this - this walk (into a mixed zone). Almost everything remains the same.
Did the earlier loss in the 10m air pistol play on your mind?
Manu: Actually, a gun malfunction is never expected. I was pretty much very good with my pistol. I did not expect anything. But the circuit stopped working, and the lever went loose. It was very unexpected. But definitely, when there is an issue in the circuit, it is related to the technical department. I tried my best.
Do you feel bad about today's performance?
Manu: Mostly, I have always been trusting - he (Saurabh) almost always has been performing pretty well. Obviously, we all wanted to perform well, and no one would want to do bad. But if someone does not perform well, then we are understanding.
You had to change your coach at the last minute...
I did not choose to. It's not that I wanted to... it just did not feel right at the moment. Of course, I am happy with the coach here.
Thoughts ahead of your next event
Manu: The other event (25m pistol) is completely different. I have always been preparing for it.
Your next event is a completely different pistol. How challenging will that be for you?
I think I have always been doing this, and it’s the same drill.
You are participating in three events here. Does that add more pressure on you to perform?
If you have not noticed, I have been participating in three events for three years now. And in every competition, I have been doing that. So why would it be a pressure?
Would it have been better to shoot in only one event?
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