Indian shooters started on a disappointing note at the Rio Olympics on Saturday, 6 August, as Jitu Rai could only finish eight in the men's 10m Air Pistol final. India's other participant, Gurpreet Singh, failed to get passed the qualification round. In the women's 10m Air Pistol event, Apurvi Chandela and Ayonika Paul crashed out in the qualification event.
Army's Jitu, bronze medallist at Incheon Asian Games in the event in 2014, shot an overall 78.7 to finish eighth in the field of eight finalists to become the first shooter to crash out of the final round.
The 28-year-old got off to a poor start and could not recover from it in a highly competitive line-up, which included the likes of Hoang Xuan Vinh, Pang Wei, Wu Felipe Almeida, Tuzinsky Juraj, Jin Jongoh, Gontcharov Vladimira and Giordona Giuseppe.
After taking three shots, Jitu could only reach a total of 28.9. He followed it up with another poor shot of 9.7 to remain at the bottom of the heap.
Jitu desperately needed a qualify shot to avoid elimination but a shot of 10.1 in the end could not help his cause and he became the first shooter to walk out of the final round.
He had to overcome a deficit of 0.7 points against Gontcharov. Jitu scored 10.1 in his last shot, and Gontcharov hit 9.7. But the Indian lost out by 0.3 points.
Vietnam's Vinh finished with the gold with a total of 202.5, while Almeida of Brazil took the silver and China's Wei settled for bronze.
Jitu is now left with another event in the Olympic Games -- 50m air pistol, which is his forte.
Earlier in day, Jitu was impressive to qualify for the finals. He fired his way to 580 points with sequence of 96 in the first two series followed by 98, 96, 96 and 98. He shot 22 X to finish sixth out of 46 competitors in the qualification round.
However, Gurpreet Singh, India's other participant in the same category, failed to advance.
Other Indian shooters in the fray -- Apurvi and Ayonika -- also crashed out in the 10m air rifle qualification round, finishing way behind the leaders.
Chandela shot an overall 411.6 to finish 34th out 51 competitors while Paul ended further down at 47th place with a total score of 403.
China's Li Du topped the qualification with a sublime 420.7, setting up an Olympic record in the process.
The expectations for a better show from the Indian duo of Chandela and Paul, who had won the gold and silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, were dashed as they were found wanting in a top-class field.
23-year-old Chandela had secured an Olympic berth for India by finishing third in the 10m Air Rifle in the 2015 ISSF World Cup in Changwon, Korea.
Later in the year, Chandela had won silver in the World Cup Final held in Munich.
Paul, who is also 23, had won an Olympic quota with a silver in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Competition in January.