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

Bindra had been fourth after qualifying but had a brilliant final round and the Indian, the
epitome of tranquillity, hit a near perfect 10.8 on his last shot to pull in front of Henri
Hakkinen of Finland, who fell to bronze with a poor final shot.

That late stumble by the Finn allowed China's Zhu Qinan, the defending Olympic
champion and heavy favourite, to salvage a bitter day with silver. Zhu sobbed
uncontrollably on the podium and again at a news conference.

"I can't describe how happy I am," the ever-calm Bindra told journalists. "It's the thrill of
my life. That's about it. It's hard to describe. I just went for it. I knew I was lying in
fourth. Thankfully it went my way and I just went for it."
Zhu 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," Zhu said just before
stepping on the podium and breaking down in tears. "But I tried my best."

Moments later at the news conference Zhu was crying harder. "I've been through a lot of
hardship and shed a lot of tears in the last four years, there have been successes and
failures," he said. "After 2004 my only aim has not changed.

I had so very much wanted to be a champion at the Beijing Olympics."

He added: "In the last two rounds I made several mistakes because I had used up all my
physical and mental energy."

Bindra, who faced criticism for failing to deliver on the great promise he showed as a
child, said he was not thinking about making history in India with a first individual gold
medal.

In fact, he said, he was "not thinking about anything". "I was just trying to concentrate on
shooting," he said.

"I wasn't thinking of making history. I was two points behind the leaders. I was just
trying to shoot good shots. I wanted to shoot well and shoot aggressively. And that's what
I did."

His 10.8 of a possible 10.9 on his final shot sparked loud celebrations from group of fans
from India.

Hakkinen, who was even with Bindra before his mere 9.7 on his last shot, said that
crucial shot felt like the nine before it.
"It just wasn't my turn," he said. "It shows that shooting is a sport from the first to the
final shot. Every one counts."

Randhir Singh, Indian Olympic Association secretary-general and former shooter who
was present at the range, was stricken by 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 told Indian television.

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


Profile: Abhinav Bindra

Age: 25 (Date of birth: September 28, 1982)

Place of birth : Dehradun, India

Winner: 10m air rifle

Career achievements:

Gold medallist, 2006 World Championships, 10m Air Rifle

Fourth place, 2005 Asian Championships, 10m Air Rifle

Previous Olympic result:

Seventh place, 2004 Olympics, 10m Air Rifle

Bindra got into shooting at the age of 15 because he liked the idea of being into fame. He
has been following a rigorous training session that include seven hours of shooting and
two hours of stretching and jogging every day.

A gold medallist at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Bindra became the first
Indian to clinch an Olympic berth for Athens 2004 with a bronze medal at the Munich
world Championships. He did break the Olympic record in Athens but that was not
enough to win a medal as his peers did even better.

Bindra, also a Khel Ratna and Arjuna awardee, bravely fought a career-threatening back
injury, which forced him out of the Doha Asian Games. He booked his Beijing berth by
winning the 2006 World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia - a first by an Indian.
(Source TOI)

				
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