Athens, August 17 (NNN): India won its first-ever silver medal at the Olympics when its ace shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore struck it on the fourth day at the 28th Olympic Games in Athens on Tuesday bringing good news to millions of sports fans back home.
Shooter Rathore provided the silver lining to India's dismal showing at the Athens Olympics when he finished second in the final of the men's double-trap shooting event.
His score of 179 (135 in qualifying and 44 in the final round) gave him the silver medal, India first individual silver ever at the Olympics.
Rathore scored 44 out of 50 in the final round.
Almaktoum of the United Arab Emirates was a class apart from the rest of the competitors and took the gold medal, scoring 144 in the qualifying round and 45 out of 50 in the final round.
China's Wang Zheng won the bronze scoring 178 (41/50).
Earlier, Ahmed Almaktoum topped the qualifying list with 144 points (an Olympic record) while Hakan Dahlby of Sweden and Zheng Wang of China were second and third respectively.
Rathore qualified for the final round after finishing fifth with a tally of 135 points (46, 43, 46) from three rounds in the preliminary stage.
(Men's double trap 150 targets - Qualification round)
1. Ahmed Almaktoum (UAE) Points:144 2. Hakan Dahlby (Sweden) Points:138 3. Zheng Wang (China) Points:137 4. Waldemar Schanza (Germany) Points:135 5. Rajyavardhan S. Rathore (India) Points:135 6. Binyuan Hu (China) Points:134
Reena in pre-quarters: Meanwhile, Indian women had mixed fortunes in the individual archery competition, with Reena Kumari advancing to the pre-quarter-finals and Sumangala Sharma biting the dust.
The day started well for India in the archery arena, as Reena prevailed over Bhutan's Tshering Chhoden in a nerve-wracking encounter which rolled into the shoot-off, before Sumangala went down 153-157 to Jean Kirstin Lewis in second round battles.
Reena, who seemed to be improving with every outing since her poor 43rd place finish in the ranking competition, won the shoot out 7-4 against the Bhutanese lass after the two were tied 134-134 in the regulation round.
The 20-year-old Reena scored a poor 19 points in her opening series to concede a huge 10-point lead to Chhoden, playing her second Olympics, before raising her game by hitting her arrows with a greater deal of consistency.
Another indicator of Reena's steady showing was the fact that even though she could not manage even a single 10-pointer, she made it through.
In contrast, Chhoden, who had earlier achieved the distinction of being the first woman archer to move to the knock-out round from the Himalayan kingdom, boasted of two 10-pointers.
The Indian was in her best form in the fourth and sixth series where she picked 25 and 26 points respectively while the 24-year-old Bhutanese paid dearly for a poor third series where she could manage just 16 points.
Reena, who had upset Kristine Esebua of Georgia in the first knock-out round on Sunday, would now be up against the formidable Chi Yuan Shu of Chinese Taipei, who had finished sixth in the ranking round. Shu got the better of Poland's Malgorzata Sobieraj 158-149 in another first round match during the day.
Sumangala, the youngest member of the Indian team, hit a 10-pointer in the fifth series, but the South African girl won the day riding on her strong showing in the third, fourth and last series, when she culled 29, 28 and 29 points respectively.
Lewis has proved to be the nemesis for the Indians in the tournament so far, as she had earlier ousted the country's top ranked archer Dola Banerjee in the opening round on Sunday. Lewis, who culled seven 10-pointers, including two bull's eye hits, will now clash with Ying He for a place in the last eight.
Malleswari A Hope: Meanwhile, the 75-strong Indian contingent, which has got just a silver in the first four days at the Olympics, will be looking up to Sydney Games bronze medallist Karnam Mallewari when she climbs the weightlifting stage to start her campaign in the 63kg women's class on Wednesday.
The Andhra Pradesh-born lifter, who has come out of retirement to take part in the Games, will try to recapture her form by taking advantage of the absence of any lifter from all-powerful China in her weight class.
As the situation stands in her weight category, there are only two lifters -- Hanna Batsiushka of Belarus and Natalya Shakun of Ukrain – ranked above Malleswari who have been credited with lifts of 240 kg.
Malleswari's personal best is 235 kg with her reduced weight. She had lifted 240 kg for the bronze medal in the 69kg division four years ago.
The tally of Batsiushka and Shakun, however, is less than that of China's Chen Xiaomin, the defending champion with a record lift of 242.5 kg. The Chinese is not scheduled to make an appearance in the category in Athens.
Hanna holds the world record in snatch (113.5kg) while Shakun lifted a record 138kg in clean and jerk. The two had contested in 58 kg class at Sydney.
Hayet Sassi of Tunisia and Anastasia Tsakiri of Greece are the other lifters with a lift of 230 kg who seem to be in the Indian's way to the podium.
Malleswari, who is joint 17th along with Nora Koppel of Argentina in 75kg division, also has compatriot Prathima Kumari, who has a maximum lift of 210kg, in the same division.
However, Prathima, who is among the top 15 in the world, is suffering from backache after the lifters' training stint in Belarus and is unlikely to create any ripples.
Chief Coach Pal Singh Sandhu had said before the team's departure that the lifters had trained well at Belarus for one-and-a-half months, but added, "training doesn't only mean improving but to maintain one's world-class performance is also very difficult".
Compatriots Kunjarani Devi (48kg) and Sanamacha Chanu (53kg) are already out of the competition without attaining the medal standard.
It is worth mentioning here that the only other athletes to ever win individual medals for India at the Olympics are Khashba Jadhav in the 1952 Helsinki Games, Leander Paes at Atlanta in 1996 and Karnam Malleshwari in Sydney 2000. All won bronze medals.
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