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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Joydeep Karmakar misses joy by just 1.9 points

Joydeep Karmakar misses joy by just 1.9 points

LONDON: Joydeep Karmakar came to London with just one box of ammunition. The rest got stolen at the ranges in Hanover, where he was training before coming here. He requested the Germans to help him out and walked into the Royal Artillery Barracks far away from the spotlight, which was firmly trained on the likes of Gagan NarangAbhinav Bindra and Ronjan Sodhi.
There was no hype, no medal expectation, no chasing cameras. No notepads being thrust under his nose. It was as if no one even knew he existed. On Friday, whenKarmakar reached the range, the Indian media bandwagon was missing. They were all at the Wembley, on a roller-coaster ride with Saina Nehwal.
The 32-year-old Kolkatan smiled to himself. "I'm happy that Saina was playing at the other venue. There was no initial pressure. It was like any other day," he said. 

Actually, it was not. He found that out after a morning of braveheart shooting. He got into the final, gave the well-known Slovenian shooter Rajmond Debevec a scare, before finishing fourth in the 50m rifle prone event, just 1.9 points off the bronze.
Phew! Where had this man come from? "I felt the pressure at the range, I was on the verge of going out in the qualifying but I fought hard, and with that came the pain. I fought like hell, I gave it my all. Yes, it was painful, going through all that, lying prone, going through hell... I love that pain," Karmakar said.
He was in the shoot-off with nine other competitors, all tied at 595.
Only five would go through. Karmakar did. He was seventh when the final began, not given a chance to fight for a medal. They were all so wrong. He started with a hesitant 10.1, and then came up with a 10.6 and then a 10.7. He was in fourth spot, on the heels of Debevec, chasing him desperately.
"Honestly, I was looking at the scores, running after him, with a purpose. The coaches always tell you not to look at the score. But how could I not do it? This was my first Olympics and I was fighting. Debevec did not give me a chance."
No, he did not. The closest Karmakar came to the Slovak was after his fifth shot, a sizzling 10.7. He was just 0.7 points behind. This was it. He took his time and went for it, and slipped. He shot a 10.2 and then a poor 10. The Slovenian had zoomed ahead. A 10.7 in the ninth round ensured that he stayed in fourth spot - an arm's distance from a medal, just a heart beat away, if you like.
"For me it is not about No. 4. I'm happy with what I achieved. I was nervous like hell, my head was buzzing. I managed to fight my demons and shoot like a man. It feels great."
He later said that the shoot-off after the qualification was the first one of his career. "I had never been in a shoot-off. This was the first time. I asked my coach about the rules and just went in." And, may we add, came so close to making history.
"I will be back in Rio. This time count me in," he said, flashing that toothy smile. We sure will.


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