India''s Gagan Narang after securing a bronze medal. (Kim Min Jae)
Shooting bronze puts India on the medals map
30 Jul 2012
London, England: It was a bronze medal this time, not gold – but this minor detail could not stop the euphoric celebrations of a huge Indian presence at the Royal Artillery Barracks for the men’s 10m air rifle competition on Monday.
Four years ago in Beijing, Abhinav Bindra made history by winning India’s first individual Olympic gold medal in this discipline. This time, however, he finished only 16th in the morning qualifying competition to miss out on a place in the eight-man final.
The Indian supporters still had high hopes of a medal, though, as Gagan Narang set his sights on the podium - four years after failing to qualify for the Beijing 2008 final by finishing agonizingly in ninth place.
Narang did not disappoint the noisy fans in the packed stands, the government and Olympic officials and a large media contingent as he clinched the bronze medal with a score of 701.1, behind Alin George Moldoveanu of Romania (702.1) and Niccolo Campriani of Italy (701.5).
Staff and security officials were caught off guard by the passion and frenzy of the Indian media after Narang won their country’s first medal of London 2012, and could only restore calm at the official press conference.
“In Beijing I missed qualifying for the final and that was quite painful, but I guess I have a huge stone off my chest,” he said.
“I am quite satisfied. An Olympic medal is an Olympic medal. I would like to thank everybody. I have had tremendous support by everybody back home and I am looking forward to their support in the future as well.”
A modest and friendly character, the 29-year-old Narang, from Hyderabad, has set up a “Gun for Glory” shooting academy in Pune to promote and develop shooting among youngsters. His bronze medal here will help that cause considerably, and he still has two events to come.