Mangala fails sans coach
Sri Lanka’s Mangala Samarakoon failed to better Sri Lanka record as
he was eliminated after the qualifying round of the men’s 50m prone
event of the Olympic shooting competition at the Royal Artillery
Barracks on Friday morning.
Samarakoon scored only 585 points, way behind his personal best of
595, in finishing 47th out of 50 shooters who took part in the event.
Former world championship gold medalist and two-time Olympic bronze
medalist Martynov Sergei of Belarus had a perfect score of 600 points to
equal the world record. Belgium’s Lionel Cox aggregated 599 to finish
second after the qualifying round.
Speaking to media after his pet event, the 31-year-old Lanka soldier
said he could have done much better had his coach been here with him.
“None of us in the Sri Lanka contingent has a single coach. There isn’t
a single coach among officials in the Sri Lanka contingent. That is a
big disadvantage. I told authorities that I need a coach with me when I
fire at Olympics,” Samarakoon said.
He said the Commander of Sri Lanka Army Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya
too tried hard to get his coach accredited for the Games. “But officials
did not take an interest.
Coach is a person who could think beyond me and advise me when it
matters the most, especially a major event such as the Olympics. They
were not interested in sending a coach to guide me. I think officials
should think seriously about having coaches on tour,” he said.
Samarakoon paid a glowing tribute to Sri Lanka Army, its Commander
and other officials. “If not for Sri Lanka Army I would not have been
here. It is due to the support and assistance that I get from SLA and
its top officials that I have come this long way,” he said.
Among the keen spectators watching Samarakoon taking his target was
former Sri Lanka shooter Lucky Rajasinghe who represented Sri Lanka at
the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Yours truly who had reported
Rajasinghe’s performance in Spain 20 years back, had an opportunity to
speak to the ace shooter here competition at the Royal Artillery
Rajasinghe was of the view that Samarakoon is a talented marksman who
could easily be groomed. “I could not go and advise him because I am
just a spectator here. But I felt he lacked concentration and services
of a coach beside him,” said Rajasinghe, now an American residing in the
USA for almost a decade. He has specially flown to the British capital
to see Samarakoon in action. Lucky and his late brother Daya Rajasingham
were household names during their era and are one of the top two
shooters ever produced by Sri Lanka.
“Having Lucky (Rajasinghe) Sir is a great encouragement.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance of speaking to him and get finer
points of the sport,” Samarakoon said.
Meanwhile, Peter Wilson claimed a gold medal for Great Britain in the
men's double trap shooting. The 25-year-old led from start to finish as
Wilson, the world record-holder and world number two in the event, was
three points ahead going into this afternoon's final after three
qualifying rounds in the morning.
In a tense final shoot-out Wilson missed five shots, including a
double as he closed in on gold. But his opponents could not take
advantage and the Briton eventually finished two clear of Sweden's Hakan
Dahlby with a total score of 188 out of 200 shots fired. He smashed the
world record in Arizona in March, scoring an incredible 198, and is now
Britain's first Shooting medalist since Richard Faulds won gold in the
same event in Sydney Olympic Games 12 years ago.
Needing one hit from the final two targets, Wilson got both before
falling to his knees in tears as a capacity crowd gave the new Olympic
Games champion a standing ovation, He then climbed into the first row of
seats to greet his mother and tearful girlfriend to be surrounded by
photographers. “'It's awesome, fantastic. I feel great,” he said.
Dahlby took silver while, behind the celebrations, Russian Vasily
Mosin won bronze after a shoot-off with Kuwaiti Fehaid Aldeehani.
Athletic action begins
There was a packed stadium as the track and field competition began
at the Olympic Stadium this morning. Wisil Toea of Papua New Guinea
registered the fastest time of 11.60 seconds out of 32 sprinters who
took part in women’s 100m qualifying round. Five others ran their heats
under 12 seconds.
Great Britain's Jessica Ennis made a sensational start in her bid for
heptathlon glory before a massive crowd. The first event, the 100m
hurdles, got under way shortly after 10am, with 26-year-old Ennis making
her Olympic debut in the fifth and final heat. Ennis who missed the
Beijing 2008 Games after suffering a career-threatening foot injury,
considers the hurdles her strongest event and is also entered for the
individual event in London.
In basketball, Croatia got off the mark at the fourth attempt to stay
alive in the London 2012 women's tournament with a 56-75 win over
Angola. In a meeting of the two remaining winless teams in Group A,
Croatia made light work of the African champions, breaking clear late in
the first quarter and opening up a double-digit lead before half-time.