Air rifle: India notches up first gold

Mike Rowbottom
Monday 11 August 2008 17:29
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Abhinav Bindra won India's first individual Olympic gold medal yesterday in the men's 10m air rifle yesterday, an achievement which reduced the Chinese defending champion Zhu Qinan, to tears.

The Indian earned victory with an outstanding final round which pulled him up from fourth position, with his last shot - a near-perfect 10.8 score from a possible 10.9 - provoking loud cheers from his Indian supporters.

While Zhu, the strong favourite, sobbed uncontrollably on the podium and again at a news conference, the Indian was a picture of calm as he reflected upon his landmark victory.

'I can't describe how happy I am,' said Bindra, who finished seventh at the 2004 Olympics and won the world title in 2006. 'It's the thrill of my life. I knew I was lying in fourth. Thankfully it went my way and I just went for it."

The Indian's final shot took him ahead of Henri Hakkinen of Finland, who fell to bronze with a poor final effort.

Zhu had suffered a lapse in concentration in the qualification earlier when he had to rush his final shots to make the time limit, dropping to second behind Hakkinen ahead of the final.

'I was under tremendous pressure and at times I felt really agitated. But I tried my best,' Zhu said. 'I've been through a lot of hardship and shed a lot of tears in the last four years. After 2004 my only aim has not changed. I had so very much wanted to be a champion at the Beijing Olympics. In the last two rounds I made several mistakes because I had used up all my physical and mental energy.'

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