Mehuli Ghosh, on Monday morning, made Indians shift in their seats, chew their nails and hold their breaths during a riveting 10 metre Air Rifle women’s final. One by one, the shooters got eliminated in the second stage of the final and the eight-member field was fast reducing. Ghosh’s more favoured compatriot, Apruvi Chandela finished third and took the bronze medal.

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Ghosh, 17, in her final chance, had to shoot a perfect 10.9 to keep alive the chances of a gold medal. And, 10.9 she shot! Took her tally to 247.2 – a games record! But that wasn’t enough to win gold (even as she prematurely started celebrating thinking she’s done it). She only tied with Singapore’s Martina Lindsay Veloso. The celebration perhaps disturbed Ghosh’s focus and in the shoot-off to break the tie, she shot a 9.9 to her opponent’s 10.3 to clinch the silver medal.

Absolute drama.

Ghosh’s mentor, Joydeep Karmakar, speaking to The Field about the final, preferred to be more analytical of his ward’s performance.

“Things like that happen, dramatic ends and all that,” he said. “We were thinking she can make a comeback in the final, as she was on and off. I would say that it wasn’t her best day.”

“But whatever she has achieved is definitely creditable. She has done this at the age of 17, at her first Commonwealth Games, and then the final, with a record and winning a silver.”

The former Olympian, however, said Ghosh possessed the potential to deliver more.

“But then, it’s a learning process. She lacked experience. What happened in the shoot-offs was definitely not expected. She didn’t realise in the moment of excitement that the match wasn’t over, that the shoot-off was left. She thought she’d already won the gold medal. That put her out of position also. It was a bit late for her to get back to position for the shoot-off.”

Change in standards

Karmakar, 37, also recalled his days as a junior level shooter, when there were hardly any competitions for him. He was, in fact, asked to take care of his expenses to participate in his first world championships.

“Also, when we were juniors, there were managers, who doubled as coaches to fill up positions... in the juniors and the seniors. You can’t related them with shooting. They were, of course, good managers but not coaches.”

Things, he said, started changing after the London Olympics. “The emphasis on juniors has been good. There are more opportunities and exposure. This is why the results are coming.”

Karmakar credited the contribution of the shooters from his era and the past in developing young shooters, like Mehuli Ghosh.