Olympics-Shooting-India celebrates long-awaited individual goldAugust 11th, 2008 - 1:13 pm ICT by ANI
Beijing, Aug 11 (Reuters): India, the world’’s second-most populous country, celebrated its first individual Olympic gold medal on Monday when Abhinav Bindra won the men’’s 10m air rifle.
Despite a population of around 1.1 billion people, India had only won four individual medals, none of them gold, since sending their first team to the Summer Games in 1928.
Bindra’’s victory was particularly sweet following the Indian men’’s hockey team’’s failure to qualify for the Games for the first time.
They have won the Olympic hockey tournament eight times and taken three other medals in the sport, though none since 1980.
Indian Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill said Bindra’’s performance would lift the success-starved country.
“This is going to give a huge incentive in going up further and becoming a dominant (sporting) power,” he told Indian TV.
“We”ve won hockey golds in the past but the individual gold is going to give a huge fillip to all our sports. The boys and girls will run that much faster and jump that much longer.”
India’’s only other Olympic medals were a bronze for freestyle wrestler Kha-Shaba Jadav in Helsinki in 1952 and a bronze for tennis player Leander Paes in 1996.
Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari became India’’s first female Olympic medallist with bronze in the 69kg category in 2000 and shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won silver in the double trap event four years ago in Athens.
The cricket-mad country had been optimistically pinning its hopes on 16-year-old swimmer Virdhawal Khade, who qualified for three events in Beijing, the 50, 100 and 200 metres freestyle.
He came only seventh in his 200 metres heat and is unlikely to make much progress in the shorter races but India will hope he fulfils his potential in London in 2012. (Reuters)
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