(STAR) By Nelson Beltran – Filipino shooter Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla was right on target, in great rhythm and in the thick of the race only to find his gun jammed in the crucial moment of the 60-shot rapid-fire event and blew his bid to medalin the 24th Southeast Asian Games here.

Padilla was sharp and precise but his Italian-made Pardini pistol was not. It malfunctioned twice in the final half of the competition, dashing his hope to regain lost glory in the regional games.

The former four-time SEAG gold medallist totaled only 538 points for 12th place out of the starting field of 15 shooters.

It was a disastrous Day Four for the RP contingent with the men’s 50m rifle prone team of Eddie Tomas, Edwin Fernandez and Rocky Pardilla also getting bad breaks and ending up sixth out of seven entries.

Pardilla suffered ear infection on the eve of the match and wound up the worst scorer among the Filipino bets with 569 - 18th out of 21 in the individual play.

Even the drawing of lots for line assignment didn’t favor the RP 50m rifle prone team. It drew the right side of the range battered by stronger winds.

But nothing was worse than the misfortune suffered by Padilla.

With his gun malfunctioning the second time, Padilla squirmed and screamed in utter frustration. He broke into tears while heading to the dugout at the completion of his round.

“It hurts because I prepared hard for this,” Padilla told The STAR later.

Padilla failed to make it past the qualifying with only 20 points in the first six-second series in the final half where his gun jammed the second time. He made two perfect 10s before the accident.

His Pardini malfunctioned first in the previous string but he still managed a 95, proceeding a strong first-half output of 282. A shooter is allowed to re-shoot only in the first jam.

“This incident rarely happens. It’s so unfortunate it happened to Tac here. I can’t remember a worse break Tac ever had,” said Donald Padilla, Tac’s older brother who’s the secretary general of the Philippine shooting federation.

“It’s a failure of either the gun or the ammo. The same ammo was used by Susan Aguado (in women’s event) but it didn’t fail. I had trouble with this gun back in Manila but we fixed it before coming here,” said Tac.

After the second jam, Tac sustained his steady shooting and topped the four-second string with 94. He submitted a complete line of 99-92-92-95-67-94.

Robert Donalvo, a marine master sergeant, made only 97-95-69-92-93-72 for 518, obviously not par for the competition using a third-generation Walther GSP which is actually for the standard event.

Carolino Gonzales opted out of the rapid-fire, thus, the Philippines didn’t get a crack at the team event topped by Malaysia followed by Vietnam then Thailand.

Thailand’s Rungpanyawut Opas got the individual gold medal with 760.8 with Malaysia’s Amir Hasan hasli Izwan pocketing the silver with 760.2 and another Malaysian Adzha Hafiz the bronze with 759.

“I missed three targets. If not for that, I could have even surpassed the SEAG qualifying record (of 564),” said Tac, confident he could regain the crown he last won in 1993 in Singapore as he was doing an average of 570 in practice before coming here.

Padilla is using another gun as he vies for the center fire event today together with Donalvo and Gonzales.

Air rifle bronze medallist Emerito Concepcion is replacing Padilla in the final event in rifle shooting. Concepcion teams up with Torres and Fernandez.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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