A 9.5 point shot shook him and the next four shots did not help his cause as Gagan slipped to the 13th place in a field of 47 shooters, with a total of 623.1. The 102.4 in the sixth series was the lowest. He had shot 104.7, 104.4, 104.6, 103.0, 104.0 till then.
Gagan missed the final by 1.7 point. Coach Stanislas Lapidus, who had guided him to the World Championship medal and the Olympic medal in London in air rifle, pointed out that Gagan had been placed seventh till the 56th shot.
‘Gave it all I had’
“The last five shots threw me out of the final. I gave it my best. I tried hard and gave it all I had,” said Gagan, grappling to cope with the anti-climax.
The versatile Gagan will have another event, the rifle 3-position, on the last day of the shooting competition on Sunday. But, it was prone in which Gagan had won the Olympic quota. Owing to health reasons, there was a phase when he was unable to be at his best in air rifle and 3-position events. He was out of the Indian team as well.
As someone who has won tons of medals in the Commonwealth Games over the years, Gagan had “strategically” opted to qualify for the Olympics in the prone event which does not put pressure on his body.
He had spent long hours getting the barrel-matching ammunition and was prepared to fight it out in the final against some of the very best in the world. “I had to get the right barrel and ammunition. You can’t run the race with your hands tied,” recalled the shooter, about the efforts that went into getting the right material for the battle.
“I wanted to shoot a good score and make the final. I was not seeing the scoreboard, but the pressure was immense,” conceded Gagan.
“Maybe it was the wind. It was not steady. I have to go back and run it in my mind. But, I have another event to go. Fingers crossed. It is about getting it all right, in one day,” said Gagan, as he looked ahead with all the positive energy he could muster.
With Abhinav Bindra, Jitu Rai, Manavjit Sandhu and Heena Sidhu slipping out of the race in different ways, the experienced Gagan, competing in his fourth Olympics on the trot, had looked to provide succour to Indian shooting.
In skeet, Mairaj Ahmad Khan shot rounds of 24, 25 and 23 to be in the 10th place with a score of 72 in a field of 32. Marcus Svensson of Sweden led with a perfect 75 after three rounds. Two more rounds will be held on Saturday and the top six will make the final.
In rapid fire pistol, Gurpreet Singh shot 289 at the halfway stage, to be in the tenth place, with the leader Christian Reitz of Germany on 296. He had rounds of 100 and 99 in the 8-second and 6-second series, but 90 in the 4-second series.