Rio de Janeiro: Abhinav Bindra, the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist, missed a medal at the ongoing Rio Games, finishing fourth in the men’s 10m Air Rifle competition at the shooting centre here on Monday.
With his loss, India’s medal hopes received a major setback with officials saying that their expectations of a double-digit tally looks unreachable.
“I think that target is now impossible. Even reaching the London Olympics figure of six medals now seems very, very difficult. I am more than disappointed with the results today,” Chef de Mission of Indian Olympic team, Rakesh Gupta told IANS.
Soon after his performance, Bindra though said that he feels coming fourth in the Olympics was no mean feat. But his facial expressions reflected his disappointment as he snapped at a journalist.
“It was a good day, a hard day. But I gave it my all. I think I did really well, and I am really very, very proud of how I finished,” he said at the mixed zone where athletes meet reporters soon after their event.
“Somebody had to finish fourth, and I did,” he added, taking in the loss after reaching the heights of stardom in Beijing.
He also made it clear that this was the end of his international career, not deviating from his earlier announcement that he would do so after the Rio Olympics. “I did well, ended fourth in the Olympics to close my career. I think it could have been better with a medal, but it was not to be,” Bindra said.
The Olympic gold medallist started off well, but lost in the bronze medal play-off to finish fourth with a total score of 163.8.
Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel said Bindra lost by a very small margin and his performance was creditable. “Even in London Olympics we did not do much in the first two days and then we went on to win six medals. There’s still hope in other disciplines and other players,” he said.
He said every Indian’s hopes were raised when Bindra reached the second position for a brief period during the final round of the 10m Air Rifle event, but hopes of a podium finish were not realised.
“This is sports, sometimes you are ahead, sometimes behind. There’s disappointment, but hope remains,” Goel told IANS.
Randhir Singh, International Olympic Committee member and former Olympic-level trap and skeet shooter said that “those who were expecting a medal would be disappointed, not me. I know what it takes to reach the finals and achieve the fourth position”.
Singh told IANS that he was “really proud” the way Bindra performed. “It’s just bad luck since he shot very well,” he said adding that in the finals at the Olympics, all the shooters were in the same class. “It’s just how they shoot on that day which defines who the winner is.”
He said he was still hopeful for other shooters and Indian athletes in other disciplines.
Later, the winner of the 10m air rifle competition, Niccolo Campriani of Italy, told reporters that India and Indian fans should be proud about the way Bindra performed. “You know, the difference of one-tenth is hardly anything. Anyone could have won. He is a World and Olympic champion and he did an amazing job,” he said.