Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bindra wins Olympic gold, shoots into history

Abhinav Bindra won India's first-ever individual Olympic gold medal when he claimed the men's 10m Air Rifle shooting title here on Monday.

Athens Games champion Zhu Qinan of China won the silver and Henri Hakkinen of Finland took the bronze at the Beijing Shooting Hall on the outskirts of the Chinese capital.

Bindra, the 25-year-old businessman from Chandigarh, followed his world championship title two years ago to finally win a landmark gold medal for his country.

In one of the most thrilling shooting finals in Olympic history, Bindra overcame a two-point deficit against Hakkinen and one point against Zhu after the qualification rounds to annexe the title.

The Indian trumped his rivals with the best finish of 104.5 in the 10-shot final as he went into the last shot level with Hakkinen on 689.7 points.

While Bindra secured his best score of 10.8 in the deciding shot, Hakkinen managed only 9.7 to concede the silver to Zhu, whose last shot was 10.5.

Bindra finished with a combined tally of 700.5, a fair distance behind Zhu's Olympic record of 702.7 set in Athens.

Zhu came in with 699.7 this time and Hakkinen, a member of Finland's armed forces who is taking part in his first Olympics, scored 699.4 points.

India, winners of eight field hockey gold medals, had never won an individual Olympic title before Bindra's feat.

The previous best was trap shooter Rajyavardhan Rathore's silver at Athens, while there were bronze medals for wrestler Khasaba Jadhav (1952), tennis star Leander Paes (1996) and woman weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (2000).