Glasgow, July 26: India’s only individual Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra rounded off his Commonwealth Games journey with his maiden singles gold medal while 16-year-old Malaika Goel clinched her first international medal, a silver, at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre here on Friday.
However, there was heartbreak for India’s rifle-shooter Ravi Kumar, who missed out on a bronze medal in a shoot-off in the final of the men’s 10m air rifle event. Former World No.1 Heena Sidhu also finished a disappointing seventh in the women’s 10m air pistol event.
In shooting, Bindra and Ravi were engaged in an interesting duel during the final round of the men’s 10m air rifle event. Ravi was in lead after 12 shots but Bindra took over him in the 13th shot and then raced away to seal the gold medal in style. For Bindra, who won India’s only individual Olympic gold medal in Beijing, it was his first individual gold medal in his fifth and last Commonwealth Games here. On the eve of the event, Bindra, 31, had announced that this would be his last Commonwealth Games.
The gold medal was the second medal for India from the shooting ranges after 16-year-old Malaika Goel won the sliver in the women’s 10m air pistol event.
World No.15 Malaika bagged the silver with a total of 197.1 points while the gold was clinched by unfancied Singaporean shooter Shun Xie Teo with a score of 198.6. The bronze went to Dorothy Ludwig of Canada with 177.2 points. Both Heena, World No.4, and Malaika were the highest ranked shooters in the competition and expectations were high from them. Heena had won the silver in the 2010 edition in Delhi.
Malaika displayed raw talent and held her nerves to shoot her maiden Commonwealth Games medal. She finished fourth in the qualifying round while Heena faltered badly in the final round with a score of 95.8 and was eliminated after the fourth shot, despite topping the qualification round.
Meanwhile, Bindra, who was the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, shot 205.3 in the final to clinch his fourth Commonwealth Gold medal. His previous three gold medals were in pairs. He had won singles silver medals in 2002 and 2010 and bronze in 2006. The Olympic champion shot 205.3 in a keenly contested final round that saw three shoot-off. Bindra also had a good qualifying round where he finished third with 622.2 points.
The silver went to Bangladesh’s Abdullah Baki while England’s Daniel Rivers got the bronze. Both Baki and Rivers were tied for the second position after the eighth shot but Baki won the shoot-off. Baki finished with a score of 202.1 and was fifth in the qualifying rounds with a score of 620. Rivers topped the qualifying rounds with a score of shot 623.6, which was a Games Record and got 182.4 in the final.
Rivers and India’s Ravi Kumar were also tied for the third place but the Englishman clinched the shoot-off. Ravi shot 162.4 in the final.
In hockey, the men’s team also started their campaign with a facile 3-1 win over lowly Wales in a Pool A tie at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. In what was a lazy and lacklustre beginning, India at half-time were held to a 1-1 scoreline by Wales, who are ranked 22 places below in the FIH Rankings. But a much better second half performance that saw two goals being scored put India through.
Indian shuttlers also continued their fine show as they Kenya in their final Pool B match of the Mixed Team event to top the group. First up, scratch pair of Jwala Gutta and Kidambi Srikanth needed only 18 minutes to beat Mercy Joseph and Patrick Mbogo 21-8, 21-8 in 18 minutes in mixed doubles.
This was followed by singles victories by Parupalli Kashyap (men’s) and P.C. Thulasi (women’s) to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead in the match. While Kashyap overcame Victor Munga 21-7, 21-8 in 20 minutes, Thulasi took only 15 minutes to destroy Lavina Martins 21-4, 21-2.
India made sure that they maintained a cleanslate when Joseph Githitu and Mbogo lost to R.M.V. Gurusaidutt and Pranaav Jerry Chopra 5-21, 6-21 in 17 minutes in men’s doubles competition and another scratch pair of Jwala and P.V. Sindhu beat Martins and Joseph 21-4, 21-5 in 21 minutes in women’s doubles.