Saturday, November 13, 2010

Faulty machine denied shooter Bindra a medal

Abhinav Bindra approaches rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus during the 10m Air Rifle qualification event. Bindra reckoned he had shot a nine point and not seven.
Lapidus borrows a zoom lens
from one of the officials and checks the target. He later confirms to Bindra that he had indeed shot a nine point
Lapidus speaks to one of the
shooting officials at the Aoti shooting range regarding Bindra's doubt, but is told that they would have to lodge an official protest. Pics/Ashwin Ferro
Faulty machine denied shooter Abhinav Bindra a medal, says coach Lapidus

Abhinav Bindra's Olympic gold medal-winning rifle had just begun to do the talking at the Aoti Shooting Range here yesterday, when it was abruptly silenced by fate.  

Bindra, competing in his pet event - the 10m Air Rifle - competition of the 16th Asian Games here was comfortably running head and shoulders above the rest and second only to China's ace shooter Zhu Qinan during the qualification rounds, before the Indian mis-fired in his fifth qualifying round and thereafter never emerged from the deficit.

It so happened that immediately after his 42nd shot Bindra felt something amiss as he read the scoreboard had registered only seven points when he felt he had hit a much better shot. The Beijing hero instantly stashed his gun away and approached India's rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus standing nearby. 

Lapidus in turn, hurried to one of the mediamen at hand to borrow a zoom lens to take a closer look at the target Bindra had just hit. 

Eventually, one of the shooting officials lent him a lens and the Kazakhstani then confirmed to Bindra that it indeed looked like he had shot a nine and definitely not a seven. 

No protest
He also advised Bindra to lodge a protest immediately, before the next shot, as any further delay would mean that a protest can't be lodged thereafter.

"But Abhinav felt he was not sure about the shot and also did not want to be docked the two-point penalty which is imposed in case a protest is incorrect. That penalty could have hurt India in the team event points tally," Lapidus later said. 

Bindra's eventual qualification scores read 100, 99, 99, 100, 97, 98 - the penultimate round's 97 proving to be the reason for his 10th place finish. "It was sheer bad luck. I was going well till that unfortunate shot and from then on it was difficult to recover," he said.

Coach Lapidus, however, was a little more forthcoming in his remarks. "It's a fault on the part of the system that has denied us what could have been a gold medal for Abhinav.

The shooting range is not very impressive - there is too much noise and it's difficult for the shooters to concentrate. 

Also, there is a lot of backlight emerging, which is another distraction to the shooters. Overall, I would say that Abhinav was unfortunately denied a medal by fate and a faulty machine," he said.

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