After an uncharacteristic 88 points in the last series of the qualification round, Jitu Rai’s campaign at the Rio Games ended on a disappointing note yesterday. Speaking to reporters after his failure to enter the final in 50m pistol, a visibly upset Rai blamed himself for letting the country down.
"I let my country down. There was wind but I don't want to make any excuses," a dejected Jitu Rai told reporters after finishing 12th at the 50m Pistol Men's event in the qualification round, reported IANS.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist in the 50m pistol seemed on course to enter his second final at Rio till the fifth series, but an 8, 8, 7 and 10 in the last four shots ruined his chances. He finished the qualification round with a total score of 554 (92, 95, 90, 94, 95, 88), and missed out on the final berth by two points.
"I let my country down. There was wind but I don't want to make any excuse."
Rai’s failure to enter the final of the 50m pistol was another disappointment to the Indian shooting contingent after Abhinav Bindra’s fourth-place finish earlier in the tournament. National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) President Raninder Singh termed Rai’s failure as “shocking” and said that he has never seen Jitu Rai shooting so low.
"I am absolutely surprised. I don't know what to say. I have never seen Jitu Rai shoot like this in the closing minute. Perhaps he totally misread the wind. I can understand one shot going awry. But three? This is totally out of the blue. He was doing so well in the other series. To get 88 in the last one is unheard of from him," Singh said.
"We had two great medal hopes, Bindra and Rai. And both have disappointed. It's really disheartening to see them in a touch and go position. Bindra's medal slipped out of our hands, and Jitu's shooting in the last few shots
I found the the last few shots of Jitu absolutely shocking. I cannot explain what happened today."
"I found the the last few shots of Jitu absolutely shocking. I cannot explain what happened today. After a great performance in the earlier series to have a meltdown like this. Who had expected that?
Reacting on Jitu Rai’s exit, the shooter’s Russian coach Smirnov Pavel said that efforts should be made to set up ranges in the mountains to give shooters practice in windy conditions.
"We missed to qualify by a few points in the end but that's shooting," Smirnov Pavel said, reported PTI.
"For long ago, I've been asking to make a range
We missed to qualify by a few points in the end but that's shooting."
Jitu Rai also echoed similar feelings about the conditions at the range.
"We don't have similar conditions back home. I had practised earlier here but that time there was not much of wind.
"The weather became bad since morning and there was a lot of wind and it was there inside the range also. The wind flow was not unilateral and it was difficult to take aim.
"I could not do whatever I had thought. I tried my best but those two shots of six (in the third series) and seven (in the sixth and final series) cost me dear," Rai said.