Abhinav Bindra’s historic gold: A shot to remember

Heading into the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India was still searching for their first-ever individual gold medallist. However, all that changed when a certain rifle shooter from Punjab by the name of Abhinav Bindra defied all odds to win the gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in the 10m Men’s Air Rifle event.

The four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist squeezed through the qualification round to manage 596/600 points and go through in joint fourth alongside Romanian shooter George Alin Moldoveanu. India’s other rifle shooter of the time, Gagan Narang, failed to qualify for the final round after finishing ninth.

In the final, Bindra managed to bring his best game to the range, as he did not fall below 10 in any of the rounds and managed to pull away from his competitors. Henri Hakkinen, who topped the qualification stage at Beijing 2008 with 598 points, was level with Bindra till the final shot but faltered at the crucial time and scored 9.7.

Meanwhile, the Indian shooter Bindra managed to end with a near-perfect final shot, scoring 10.8 to clinch the gold medal in a nervy final round at Beijing 2008. Bindra finished the 10m Men’s Air Rifle with a score of 700.5, surpassing the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medallist Zhu Qinan, who had to settle for a silver.

Bindra’s magnificent performance in Beijing managed to turn him into a household sensation overnight as he became the first Indian gold medallist in an individual Olympic event. It also marked the nation’s first gold medal in 28 years, since the 1980 triumph of the hockey team.

His Olympic success helped popularise the sport of shooting, as India bagged two more medals at London 2012 (Vijay Kumar’s silver and Gagan Narang’s bronze), alongside numerous triumphs at the Asian and Commonwealth Games.

That Beijing golden moment will always be much talked about in the country. And ahead of Tokyo 2020, India’s finest sporting talent can certainly take inspiration from Bindra - and not just for shooting but across all disciplines.

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