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Rediff.com  » Sports » Abhinav Bindra wins 10m air rifle gold

Abhinav Bindra wins 10m air rifle gold

Last updated on: August 11, 2008 14:06 IST

Abhinav Bindra won India's first ever individual Olympic gold medal on Monday with a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the men's 10 metres air rifle event.

- Congratulate Abhinav Bindra!

Bindra was fourth after qualifying but had a brilliant final round and even hit a near perfect 10.8 on his last visit to pull in front of Henri Hakkinen of Finland, who dropped to bronze with a poor final shot of 9.7.

That allowed China's Zhu Qinan, the defending Olympic champion and heavy favourite, to pass him on his final shot and win the silver medal.

"It's just great," Bindra said just before climbing on to the podium.

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

He was close to tears and said: "I was under tremendous pressure and at times I felt really agitated. But I tried my best."

India's last Olympic gold medal was from hockey (8th gold) at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Bindra's feat betters the silver medal effort of double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore at the Athens Games in 2004.

Randhir Singh, Indian Olympic Association secretary-general and former shooter who was present at the range, was stricken with nerves as the competition reached its climax.

"I haven't prayed so much in my life. With the second last shot they tied together and then he (Bindra) shot a 10.8. It couldn't have got better," he said.

Bindra won the 2006 World championships and finished seventh in Athens four years ago.

Earlier, Gagan Narang failed to make the final cut in the same event as he finished ninth with a score of 595/600. He shot a series of 97,100,100,100,98,100, while Bindra, a Khel Ratna winner, finished the qualifying event joint-fourth with Romania's George Alin Moldoveanu. The duo had a score of 596/600.

The bespectacled shooter scoring sequence was 100, 99, 100, 98, 100 and 99.

Finland's Henri Hakkinen qualified first for the event with a score of 598/600 after shooting a series of 100, 100, 99, 100, 100 and 99.

China's Qinan Zhu was a point adrift of Hakkinen with a series of 100, 100, 100, 100, 99 and 98.