There was a bit of déjà vu for Roger Daniel at the Royal Artillery Barracks, here in London, England, yesterday.
Appearing in his third Olympic Games, Daniel duplicated his Beijing 2008 finish in the men's 10 metres air pistol, the Trinidad and Tobago shooter copping 36th spot with a total of 568 points. In Beijing, he totalled 571 to finish 37th but was later promoted to 36th following the disqualification of North Korean drug cheat, Kim Jong-su.
It was a South Korean that struck gold, yesterday, Jin Jong-oh topping the qualifying round with 588 points and then scoring 100.2 in the eight-man final for a total of 688.2. Italian Luca Tesconi (685.8) and Serbia's Andrija Zlatic (685.2) claimed silver and bronze, respectively.
Daniel was visibly disappointed at the end of the qualifying competition. He had just produced his lowest ever score in an Olympic 10m air pistol event. On his debut, at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, the soldier was 27th with 574 points.
"That's not a good show," Daniel told the Sunday Express. "The smoothness just wasn't there. Mentally I think I put pressure on myself, even though I knew what to do."
Daniel enjoyed a solid start, scoring 97 out of a possible 100 with his first ten shots. However, he followed up with 94, 94, 93 and 94 to slip out of contention for a place in the final. The 42-year-old shooter stepped up his game at the end, earning 96 points with his last ten shots, including four 10s on the trot to close off his London Games 10m air pistol campaign in style.
Afterwards, Daniel explained his strong finish.
"I was beating up on myself. I really said some choice things—'hey what it is you really…concentrate, you have to concentrate'. Despite what you're going through or what you're feeling, you have to put that aside, dig deep and go at it. You have to finish. Anyhow you take it, you start a match, you must finish."
The warm London weather that had greeted me on my arrival last Tuesday has since deserted me, the chilly conditions yesterday evoking memories of the London I endured while living here in 2008/2009.
In much the same way, Daniel's confidence deserted him, the confidence that had propelled him to multiple Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games titles, as well as Commonwealth and Pan Am Games podium finishes, and a personal best score of 586.
Unable to work out his problems, the T&T marksman, on more than one occasion, stepped away from his shooting position to seek the advice of his Mongolian coach Altansetseg Byambajav.
"She basically told me to concentrate on smooth triggering. But sometimes in these events, the body reacts a certain way. Yes, you're concentrating on all these nice things you plan and you're accustomed doing, but the reaction you get is a little different."
Byambajav was also disappointed with Daniel's performance.
"Today was not so good," she told the Sunday Express, "but normally he is a very good shooter. Little mistakes…normally, he can shoot 580 or more."
Daniel will be back at the Royal Artillery Barracks next Sunday, August 5, competing in the men's 50m pistol event.
"I'm going to recharge myself and get this out of my mind. I want to go into the 50 metres feeling much stronger. My performance in the 10 metres was not a good one, so I'm going to dig deeper and put out a much greater effort.
"I want to tell everybody," Daniel continued, "thanks for the support. We still have more. It isn't over as yet. Greater things may happen."
The greatest swimming achievement in T&T history came at the 2004 Games in Athens, George Bovell bagging bronze in the men's 200m individual medley.
Competing at his fourth Olympic Games, Bovell, 29, opens his London campaign today, at 6.06 a.m. (T&T time), in the men's 100m backstroke. He will swim in lane eight, in the second of six heats.
American Matthew Grevers, the 2012 world leader at 52.08 seconds, has been drawn in the sixth and final heat. His toughest challenge in that race is expected to come from Japan's Ryosuke Irie. Two other top contenders in the event, France's Camille Lacourt and American Nick Thoman, will swim in heats five and four, respectively.
Bovell's personal best in the 100 back is 55.65 seconds, which ranks him 40th among the 43 entrants in the event.
T&T's best ever swimmer, however, would not be concerned about that statistic, since he is using the 100 back and 100 freestyle as preparation for his medal bid in the 50 free.
At 21.89 seconds, Bovell is the ninth fastest swimmer in the 50 free field, and a genuine contender for precious metal.