Mohd Asab misses Olympic quota by a whisker

It was a solitary bird that flew away, taking the Olympic dream of Mohd Asab yet again, in its flight, on a dramatically empty day for the hosts in the Asia Olympic qualifying shooting competition at the Dr. Karni Singh Range.

India's shooter Asab Mohd (right), who won the bronze medal in the men's double trap final event of the Asia Olympic Qualifying competition   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

It was a solitary bird that flew away, taking the Olympic dream of Mohd Asab yet again, in its flight, on a dramatically empty day for the hosts in the Asia Olympic qualifying shooting competition at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Asab, who had won the World Cup Final bronze in October in the elite competition for the best shooters of the season, shot 26 out of 30 in the semi-final, and missed the chance to get the Olympic quota and fight for the gold, by one point.

After the confident fare in the qualification phase when he topped with 142 out of 150, one point ahead of compatriot Ankur Mittal, who ended up fifth, it was a heart-breaker for Asab, who had recently won the national championship for the first time in Jaipur.

Fehaid Aldeehani of Kuwait, competing as an independent participant as Kuwait has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee, took the quota with the silver medal behind Khaled Alkaabi of the UAE.

Two-time Olympic medallist Fehaid Aldeehani had won the Asian Championship back home in Kuwait, but the Olympic qualification status of the event had been revoked by the IOC.

“I focused hard on each target through the day. Maybe, the 12-second timer was ticking at the back of my mind during the knock-out”, reasoned Asab, quite candid in admitting that he was feeling miserable at the missed opportunity.

It was not a new experience, as Asab had shot 143 in qualification and 29 in the semi-finals, but had missed the quota place in the Gabala World Cup in August. It was another heart-breaker as Asab missed the chance to fight for a medal following a series of shoot-off, and placed fifth, while the fourth placed shooter got the quota place.

Ankur Mittal was equally impressive in shooting 141 following a series of 30, 28, 28, 27 and 28, but in front of the packed stands, he was unable to recreate the magical form. Maybe, the advancing of the final by about a half hour, proved counter-productive for the hosts, as there was no time to rest and recover for the best who were more exhausted than the rest.

Earlier, it was another story of missed chance in men’s air rifle, even though there was no expectation of a quota from the event, as India would be fielding two of the best in the world, Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang in Rio.

The young Akhil Sheoran made a fight for the quota, but missed it with a fourth place, while the gold medallist Naoya Okada of Japan and the bronze winner Pourya Norouziyan of Iran took the Olympic quota. The silver medallist Yuriy Yurkov of Kazakhstan had already won the Rio ticket in the Fort Benning World Cup in the rifle 3-position event.

The 20-year-old Akhil, who missed the quota by 1.2 point as five of his last six shots were not his best in the final. He had qualified for the final in the eighth place, 0.2 point ahead of Japanese Takayuki Matsumoto.

There is hope of a better tomorrow, as Annu Raj Singh (289), Anisa Sayyed (288) and Rahi Sarnobat (285) stayed close to the top score of 290, at the halfway stage in women’s 25-metre sports pistol. The second half and the final will be shot on Sunday. Both Annu Raj and Rahi Sarnobat, had competed in the London Olympics, and must be thirsting for another appearance.

After winning three quota places, one every day in the ongoing competition, to take its tally to 11 for Rio, the host would also look up to Elizabeth Susan Koshy, Lajja Gauswami and Anjum Moudgil to deliver an Olympic quota on the morrow in women’s rifle 3-position event.

The results:

Men: 10m air rifle: 1. Naoya Okada (Jpn) 208.1 (620.8); 2. Yuriy Yurkv (Kaz) 206.3 (620.6); 3. Pourya Norouziyan (Iri) 184.2 (621.8); 4. Akhil Sheoran 163.0 (620.1); 11. Prashant Tanwar 619.4; 21. Satyendra Singh 617.1. MQS: Chain Singh 626.4; Gagan Narang 624.4. rifle3-position 1. Khaled Alkaabi (UAE) 26 (28) 138; 2. Fehaid Aldeehani (ISP) 25 (27) 140; 3. Mohd Asab 26 (26) 142; 4. Shin Hyun Woo (Kor) 24 (26) 137; 5. Ankur Mittal 25 (41); 16. Ronjan Sodhi 126. MQS: Yoginderpal Singh 139; Sangram Dahiya 136.