Abhinav will be the new Indian sporting icon, says Kalmadi (Lead)

August 11th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 11 (IANS) After years of disappointment, Indian sports officialdom finally wore a golden smile with shooter Abhinav Bindra’s triumph at the men’s 10 metre air rifle event in the Beijing Games here Monday. “It’s a great day in the history of Indian sports. Finally, we have won an individual gold. The last time we saw a gold medal was when the Indian hockey team won it in 1980. (The) youth in the country have got a new icon in Abhinav Bindra. I hope they will now be drawn more towards Olympic sports,” said Suresh Kalmadi, President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

IOA general secretary Randhir Singh, himself a shooter, with six Olympic appearances said: “Abhinav has vindicated our belief that shooting is indeed one of the big sports where India can look forward to a great deal of success. We had been winning a lot of medals in international competitions, but now success has started coming in World Championships and Olympics, too. (Rajyavardhan) Rathore’s silver medal in 2004 and now this gold from Abhinav will change the face of Indian sport.”

“Cricket rules the roost in India but now the youngsters have a role model who plays some other sport. It’s great for us and it augurs well for us,” added Kalmadi.

“It is a very proud moment for all of us here and back home. To see the Indian flag being raised and the national anthem being played at the Olympic Games has made us feel proud of our country. It’s an unforgettable moment,” he said.

Kalmadi said at this point, he also wanted to thank Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for allotting Rs.7 billion for the preparation of athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games scheduled in Delhi.

“That allotment will see us win many more medals,” he said.

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