I finally see our name on the medal tally list which enthuses and warms my heart. It is our first individual gold medal in an individual event and comes after the gold medal winning feat of the then Indian Hockey team at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. We have waited sixty two years for our first individual gold medal and another twenty eight for one to return to India. The best part is that it comes at the time we celebrate our independence.
Abhinav Bindra, an ace shooter who has seen the top of the world in his foray into the dizzy heights of international shooting has finally bagged the biggest prize of his young career, an Olympic Gold medal. At twenty five, if he can win at the biggest stage then we can expect a lot more to come from his shooting kit. After a nervous and under-performing outing at Athens in 2004, where he finished seventh while breaking the Olympic record, the shooter has finally come on to his own.
In the 10 metre Air Rifle event Bindra shot a 104.5 and culminate his total to 700.5 points to take the gold. China’s Qinan Zhu, the defending Olympic champion and the absolute favorite to win, settled for the silver while Finland’s Henri Hakkinen took home the bronze medal finishing the podium pursuit in the event. The win brought India its ninth gold medal.
Through the ten rounds in the final, the Indian shot 10.7, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.5, 10.5, 10.6, 10.0, 10.2, 10.8 to clinch the elusive gold medal. Bindra had shot an aggregate of 596 out of 600 which included shooting a perfect 100 in three of the six rounds of the qualifiers. In reaching the final Bindra finished fourth to qualify with two points behind Henri Hakkinen of Finland.
In the final Bindra came back from the fourth position with a delightful final round contest while going head to head with the Finn. Embodying calm and keeping true to his motto, “For a shooter, all skill lies in concentration”, he hit a 9.8 of the maximum score of 10.9, which was in close proximity of the perfect shot. That shot helped him maneuver ahead of Henri Hakkinnen. The Finn who shot a poor 9.7 in the last shot let go of his silver medal chances and allowed the dejected Chinese Qinan Zhu to take the second place.
The Chandigarh lad is the winner of the Arjuna Award in 2000 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2001-2002. He won a gold medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, 2002, in the pair’s event and a silver medal in the individual event in the10 metre Air Rifle event. He also won the World Championships in 2006.
With a bright start to our Olympic campaign, I firmly believe a few more of these good moments are going to come our way. What we need is to hope that our players perform upto their potential and achieve many more such feats!
Sayan S. Das