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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Olympics: Bindra, Narang set to take aim

LONDON: Defending champion Abhinav Bindra is expected to face a stiff challenge from Beijing Games silver medallist Qinan Zhu and compatriot and former world record-holder Gagan Narang, as India await her moment of Olympics glory in the men’s 10m air rifle event, in London on Monday.


Bindra may not be tipped as the favourite, but that could be a blessing in disguise for it takes off the pressure a bit. Even in Beijing it was Narang who went in as the favourite, following his world record scores, but in the end Bindra showed nerves of steel to clinch the moment.Experts are predicting an open contest, pointing to China’s Zhu and Italy’s Nicco Campriani as the shooters to beat. After losing to Bindra, Zhu has participated in 15 ISSF events and won six of them. He has also made it to the podium 10 times while missing the finals just once.Campriani, world No.1 and world champion, was the first to qualify for the Olympics by winning the gold at the ISSF World Championship in Munich in 2010. Both Bindra and Campriani train under the same coach, Gabby Buehlmann.Narang, who won three medals including the bronze at the World Championships, will be hoping to be third-time lucky after missing out in Athens and Beijing. The Hyderabadi goes into the Games after some meticulous training, charted out by his coach Stanislav Lapidus. Also in the medal hunt are China’s Tao Wang, Hungary’s Peter Sidi and Russia’s Dennis Sokolov.Both Abhinav and Gagan will be looking at a preliminary round score of 598/600 to book their spot in the finals. In Beijing , Bindra scored 596 to make the medal round and then had to fire a 10.8 in his last shot to clinch the gold.Zhu set the final world record of 703.8 (600+103.8) en route to victory in the World Cup final last year and will look to regain the gold which he won in Athens. The Indians, meanwhile , will be gunning for the top two spots.

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