Shooters Mairaj, Gurpreet miss final

Mairaj shot 49 out of 50 in the last two rounds to be tied with four others on 121 out of 125 for the last two berths in the final. He was eventually placed ninth after the shoot-off, missing a chance to make the final. Gurpreet Singh missed the 25-metre rapid fire pistol final by two points.

Gurpreet Singh rues a missed shot during the 25m rapid fire pistol qualification round in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.   -  PTI

The tale of missed chances continued even as Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Gurpreet Singh put up a fighting performance in their respective events at the Olympic Shooting Range in Deodoro on Saturday.

The 40-year-old Mairaj, who had won the World Cup silver in skeet at the same venue in April this year, shot 49 out of 50 in the last two rounds. He was tied with four others on 121 out of 125 for the last two berths in the final.

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In the shoot-off, Mairaj missed after three birds, so did Anthony Terras of France. Gabriele Rossetti of Italy and Jesper Hansen of Denmark qualified after Eric Delaunay of France missed after 11 successful shots.

As expected, the qualification was on high scores with Kuwait’s Abdullah Alrashidi, representing the Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA) and Marcus Svensson of Sweden topping with 123, followed by Stefan Nilsson of Sweden and Mikola Milchev of Ukraine who finished with 122.

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Mairaj, coached by Atlanta Olympics champion Ennio Falco, had a brilliant series of 24, 25, 23, 25 and 24, considering it was his first Olympics.

On the other hand, Gurpreet Singh, trying to emulate Vijay Kumar who won the silver in the London Games, missed the final in the men’s 25-metre rapid fire pistol by two points despite shooting better in the second phase for a total of 581.

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It was a good performance from Gurpreet, as he shot 97, 98 and 97 for a total of 292 in the second stage. The 97 in the 4-second series was impressive after he had scored only 90 in the first stage.

He had shot 289 in the first stage, with the 8-second and 6-second series accounting for 199 out of 200 points.

Gurpreet, who has been doing well in rapid fire pistol and has five final appearance in World Cups to his credit, clinched the Olympic quota in air pistol.

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Though it was discouraging to finish seventh in a small field of 26 shooters, Gurpreet had company in the reigning world champion and Incheon Asian Games gold medallist, Kim Junhong of Korea, and the former world champion Alexei Klimov of Russia.

The two followed Gurpreet in the eighth and ninth place. The 2006 World Champion and Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Christian Reitz of Germany topped the field in style by equalling the Olympic record of 592.