2014 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
Moldova shooter Ion Aric started the day with anticipation yesterday, hoping to win his country's first medal at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
But even before firing a single shot, the 18-year-old was in despair when his partner, Polina Konarieva of Ukraine, failed to show up.
Still, despite being the only competitor without a team-mate by his side, he soldiered on in the quarter-finals of the mixed team 10m air pistol, struggling to contain his emotions with each shot.
By the time his partner showed up, Chinese Taipei's Chung Ting-yu and Zaven Igityan of Armenia had already earned what was virtually free passage to the semi-finals.
It was a victory that the winning duo did not celebrate.
Said Ting-yu: "I feel very sorry for (Ion), and like I don't deserve to be in the semi-finals."
Ukraine coach Oleksandr Kaminskyy said Polina had overslept and left the Youth Olympic Village - located about 40 minutes' drive away - by taxi at 8am, but had problems communicating with the driver and arrived at Fangshan Shooting Hall 15 minutes past the start time of 9am.
An inconsolable Ion, with tears still streaming down his cheeks, told The Straits Times: "I don't know what happened. Maybe my team-mate was not responsible for her actions."
Moldova chef de mission Cristina Vasilianov could not help but wipe tears from her eyes as she watched Ion shoot solo.
Noting that they were assured everything was okay by their Ukrainian counterparts just that morning, she said: "We are a small country with not many resources. For an athlete to get into the top eight was such an achievement for us.
"For us, winning one medal is like winning a thousand medals. We have done as much as is possible. Ion performed very well under such stress.
"For us, he is a winner."
Ukraine were not the only side who failed to show up for this event.
Kazakhstan and Thailand also did not arrive on time for the qualification round on Wednesday.
Said Joerg Brokamp, technical delegate from the International Shooting Sport Federation: "These teams didn't prepare well, and that is not good fair play.
"It's the mistake of the team managers and coaches for not taking care. It's a pity."
This article was first published on Aug 22, 2014.
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