Bindra grabs India's first individual Olympic gold

11th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Abhinav Bindra becomes the first Indian to win a gold medal in an individual event, gaining a gold medal in the 10 meter air rifle contest.

11 August 2008

BEIJING - Abhinav Bindra won India's first ever Olympic gold medal in an individual event on Monday when he won the men's 10 metre air rifle at the Beijing Games.

World champion Bindra improved on his seventh place finish in Athens four years ago, claiming victory with a total of 700.5 points, with the 2004 gold medallist Zhu Qinan of China taking silver with 699.7 and Finland's Henri Hakkinen bronze with 699.4.

"I am happy, it is the best feeling in my life," said Bindra. "I was trying to concentrate on shooting. I wasn't thinking about making history. I mean I was two points behind at one stage.

"For me life will go on, [but] I sincerely hope that this will change the face of Olympic sport in India. In India, Olympic sport is not really a priority, so I hope that the Olympic sports in general can get more attention."

Indian President Pratibha Patil, Federal Sports Minister MS Gill and Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi joined Indians across the country in congratulating Bindra on winning India's first individual gold.

"I am extremely delighted and proud to hear today that you have realized the dream of a billion of our people, by winning the Olympic Gold Medal in the 10-Metre Air Rifle Event in Beijing," Patil said in her message to Bindra.

"Every Indian stands taller today ... Bindra's win should be an inspiration for all Indian sportsmen," Gill said in an interview to NDTV television channel from Beijing.

"This gold is far higher than any cricket or Twenty20 cricket ... this medal is very special ... every Chinese is congratulating me as if I fired the shot," he added.

"The youth in the country have got a new icon in Abhinav Bindra. I hope they will now be drawn more towards Olympic sports," Kalmadi said in a statement from Beijing.

Satu Makela-Nummela, meanwhile, ended a 44-year drought for Finland in the sport when she won the women's trap event with 91 points.

Zuzana Stefecekova of Slovakia took silver with 89 points and Corey Cogdell won a four-woman shoot-out for bronze after finishing with 86 points.

Makela-Nummela won the first gold for Finnish women in shooting and the first overall since Valno Markkanen got gold 1964 in Tokyo in the men's free pistol event.

For India, however, the victory was even more historic. The country has taken Olympic team gold eight times in men's field hockey, but individual success has always proved elusive.

The country's first non-hockey medal only came at the 1952 Helsinki Games when freestyle wrestler Kha-Shaba Jadav earned a bronze in the 60kg division, while Leander Paes also won a bronze in the men's singles tennis tournament in Atlanta in 1996.

Two Indian women have also won individual Olympic medals: weightlifter Karnam Malleswari took bronze at Sydney 2000 while Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore earned silver in the double trap shooting event in Athens four years ago.

Silver medalist Zhu went into the event as favourite to defend the title the 24-year-old surprisingly won in Athens, not least because he is also the holder of the Olympic record for both the qualification and the final.

"I didn't know what was going on, my mind went blank. I couldn't get focused during the final as I did in qualification," he said. "I prepared very well. There was no problem in my technique, I just didn't avail of the opportunity."

Bindra led from the start with an opening score of 10.7 and never looked back.

"He performed very well. He should be happy he medalled," Bindra said of Zhu.

Bindra said after his comeback to victory: "I just went for it. I don't know what happened but thankfully it went my way. I kept going for it and luckily it went my way."

World record holder Thomas Farnik of Austria finished down in a disappointing 10th spot.

[dpa / Expatica]

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