Marksmen who took India to greater heights

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's historic silver at Athens 2004 laid the platform for India to achieve greater heights in the sport of shooting

By Bhaktvatsal Sharma ·

Ever since sports shooting was introduced at the Olympics, the discipline has produced some mouth-watering match-ups.

However, India had to wait until the 21st century to see one of their own step onto the podium at the Summer Games.

At Athens 2004, it was Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who claimed India’s first-ever Olympic shooting medal.

Since then we have seen the likes of Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar further raise the sport's profile in India with their splendid performances at the Olympics.

Maiden medal

Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore with Ahmed Al Maktoum of UAE and China’s Wang Zeng after the Athens 2004 men’s double trap

With Ahmed Al Maktoum cruising to gold and the UAE's first ever Olympic medal in the double trap, the silver was a straight between Rathore and China's Wang Zheng.

The Indian had some difficulty hitting the clay discs in qualification, but he was on the money when it mattered as he struck with his last two shots to clinch the silver.

The golden touch

Abhinav Bindra with his gold medal in the Beijing 2008 10m Air Rifle

A shooter who had the shooting world talking about his potential before the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Abhinav Bindra, did not disappoint one bit at the biggest stage.

The Indian went about his business in his usual composed and single-minded way in the 10m air rifle.

And he clinched gold with an almost perfect shot of 10.8 for a winning total of 700.5, 0.8 ahead of China's reigning champion Zhu Qinan.

Double delight at London

While Beijing 2008 saw Bindra become India’s first-ever gold medallist in an individual event, shooting was in for more celebration four years later as the Games returned to London for the first time in 64 years.

Gagan Narang (R) poses with his bronze medal at London 2012

It started with Gagan Narang taking bronze in the Bindra's event, the 10m air rifle, finishing just 1.0 off the gold medal tally recorded by Romania's Alin Moldoveanu.

Five days later, Vijay Kumar claimed a superb silver in the 25m rapid fire pistol behind Cuba's Leuris Pupo.

Those two shooting medals contributed to a total of six at London 2012, India's biggest haul at an Olympic Games.

So close, yet so far

 India’s Joydeep Karmakar can agonisingly close to winning an Olympic medal but finished fourth in the 50m Rifle Prone.

While Kumar and Narang went on to soak in all the adulation after their medal-winning show, a certain Joydeep Karmakar was left to rue his misfortune as he just missed out on a medal in the 50m rifle prone.

He was involved in a protracted battle with Rajmond Debevec and some shaky shots in the middle of the final saw the Slovenian take the bronze with 701,0 points to Karmakar's 699.1.

From the highs to the lows

Having basked in the glory of winning gold at Beijing 2008, Bindra suffered heartbreak eight years later.

Italy's Campriani wins gold in Men's 10m Air Rifle

In men's 10m air rifle, Italy's Niccolo Campriani wins gold, his second med...

Having qualified in seventh place in the 10m air rifle, the Indian raised his game in the final to move right into the medal hunt.

After six rounds, the fourth-best shooter was eliminated with Bindra and Ukraine's Serhiy Kulish tied on 163.8.

It went to a shoot-out with the winner guaranteed a medal and the loser going home with nothing.

For once, Bindra's nerve failed him as he only scored 10.0 with Kulish's 10.5 keeping him in the contest in which he would eventually secure silver.