Sports minister, IOA chief hail Bindra’s performance (Lead)

August 11th, 2008 - 3:27 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. Accolades kept flowing like champagne for the shooter as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi and Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs M.S. Gill hailed Abhinav as India’s latest sporting icon.

“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 Kalmadi.

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.

Gill who was present at the shooting range said: “He has been an outstanding shooter for years. He has won a number of medals but this is very special. Earlier only the hockey team brought us gold, but now for the first time we have won an individual gold medal.”

“I am hopeful that we will get many more medals. Youngsters in India who watched Bindra today will feel motivated enough to be future Bindras,” said Gill, as he put his arm around the youngster soon after he came out of the press conference here Monday.

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