Singaporean overcomes ‘cold’ weather to win shooting gold
Despite being the only person in Scotland who thought the country wasn’t warm enough, Shun Xie Teo of Singapore yesterday earned her country’s first medal of the Games when she came from behind to win the women’s 10m air pistol at the sun-kissed Barry Buddon shooting venue.
The winner found Scotland’s unusually hot weather not to her liking – then again, Singapore’s temperature recently has averaged 34 degrees.
“This morning I was very nervous and it was very cold, too,” said Teo. “I had to have a warm pack. I had to continue with the gameplan as it was in training.”
She blew hot and cold at first in the final, but kept her cool despite dropping down near the bottom of the list of eight finalists early in the final. Teo then came back to shoot near perfection in the closing rounds, taking the lead with shot 17 of 20, a 10.7 mark, the best single shot of the final.
It was a lead she never relinquished despite the attentions of 16-year-old Malaika Goel of India, who kept her nerve to press Teo to the end. Both scored 10s with their 20th and final shot, leaving Teo the winner by 198.6 pts to 197.1, her score being a new Games record for the Final of the event.
Dorothy Ludwig of Canada will regret a couple of low scores which restricted her to the bronze medal, two places ahead of her sister Lynda Kiejko, who had a baby just two weeks ago but was determined to compete.
Ludwig said: “It was a great shot from Teo to take the lead and I feel happy for her with her achievement.
“It was a very tight final and it could have been easy to jump from last to first. Everyone wants to win the gold but I am happy to have won bronze and feel blessed to be part of this team.”
The two big shocks of the elimination final – as the contest progresses, the lowest scoring competitor has to leave after each round – were the departure of world No. 1 Heena Sidhu of India after just ten shots and Australian Lalita Yauhleuskaya’s failure to medal.
Fourth-placed Yauhleuskaya had won six gold medals in the last four Games and her failure clearly rankled - the expression ‘face like fizz’ easily came to mind.
Coral Kennerley of Wales finished sixth overall, not bad for a 20-year-old whose practice area is her family’s bathroom and hall.
Earlier in the qualification event, Scotland’s Caroline Brownlie made a poor start with a 75 – the lowest score of the morning – with her opening round, and though she recovered well and shot a final 96, the damage was done and she finished 24th out of 28 competitors with a score of 351. She will attempt to recover ground in Saturday’s 25m pistol event.
Local woman Sian Bruce, who turned 21 a few days ago, will have no such opportunity as she failed to make the final six in the women’s skeet event. Bruce finished last of the nine competitors in the qualification round for her sole event.
Another shock failure to make that final six was Amber Hill, England’s much touted 16-year-old shooting sensation who lost out in a play-off for the sixth place in the final.
The BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year took defeat with grace: “I started off well but had a few problems with my last round but I’ve had a great time and it’s been a really good experience. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. In the first round nerves were definitely there. But I’ve got to find the positives and look to the future.”
The gold medal went to Laura Coles of Australia, who pipped Elena Allen of Wales by a single target, 14-13, in the match to decide first and second. Andri Eleftheriou of Cyprus claimed bronze, also by a single target (13-12) over England’s Sarah Gray in the 3rd/4th place match.
The women’s skeet final somehow evaded the haar which rolled in from the North Sea, the dense fog causing the postponement of the full bore rifle for the Queen’s Prize which was taking place only a few hundred yards away.
There was no such problem for the indoor range where India’s shooting superstar, the former Olympic and World champion Abhinav Bindra, set a Games record for a Final of 205.3 pts in winning the 10m air rifle event.
Bindra and his compatriot Ravi Kumar were favourites for the event, and their adoring fans took over the range with the sort of behaviour you would not expect at an event demanding intense concentration – rhythmic handclapping and raucous whoops and cheers.
There being no Scottish competitor in the event, the home fans simply cheered along in a superbly atmospheric venue as the finalists at first put up a close fight.
Dan Rivers of England had set a Commonwealth Games record in qualifying for the final, but was forced to go to a shoot off against Kumar to win the bronze medal.
Though at one time Bindra fell behind Kumar, a poor shot from the latter left Bindra well ahead of the opposition in the closing stages, and despite the noise and clamour, he was the essence of cool as he forged ahead with a succession of 10-plus scores.
Abdullah Baki of Bangladesh did his best to put pressure on Bindra, but after 15 of 20 shots it was a question of how far Bindra would win by, and at the close he was a comfortable 3.2 points ahead of Baki, who deserved his silver for his tenacity.
Bindra won India’s first Olympic gold for 28 years in Beijing, and had announced before his arrival in Scotland that this would be his last Commonwealth Games, having won gold at the previous three Games from Manchester 2002 onwards.
This fourth gold at the age of 31 – young for a shooter - will surely have his legion of fans in India screaming, and clapping, for him to carry on.
Meanwhile, the men’s skeet qualification event is past the halfway stage, with Scotland’s Drew Christie giving a superb showing to be ranked second, one point behind former world champion Georgios Achilleos of Cyprus. Christie needs only to keep his concentration in two remaining qualifying rounds to make the final scheduled for Saturday afternoon.