London - Shooting on Monday became the second sport after men’s hockey to fetch India more than two medals down the years at the Olympics, with the success in the discipline having come from three back-to-back games since Athens in 2004.
As Gagan Narang took the men’s 10m air rifle bronze at the Royal Artillery Barracks, he carried forward the legacy of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – who started the medal conquest in the sport with a silver in the men’s double trap at Athens.
Abhinav Bindra then became the toast of the nation four years ago at Beijing by shooting the gold in men’s 10m air rifle to become the country’s first ever yellow metal winner in any individual event at the quadrennial showpiece event.
In London, Bindra’s unceremonious elimination at the qualification stage here earlier on Monday had come as a heartbreak for the Indian diaspora in this European city and the billion plus population back home.
However, the 29-year-old Narang – who shot four golds in the Delhi Commonwealth Games and was always considered a big hope alongside Bindra in the event – made up for his compatriot’s luckless show by earning India its third Olympic medal from the sport.
Narang had given enough indications of his class in a pre-Olympics event in Germany’s Hannover by scoring 704.3 – that was higher than the world record of 703.1 set by Thomas Farnik of Austria in the 2006 World Cup.
The Indian shooter, participating in his third Games, however, was a shade below his Hannover high, managing an aggregate of 701.1 (598 qualifying, 103.1 final). The gold winner Romanian Alin George Moldoveanu also totalled 702.1 (599 qualifying, 103.1 final), that was again short of Narang’s dream score.
Narang’s success has added to India’s less than impressive medal count – which now stands at 21 comprising nine golds, four silvers and eight bronzes – in Olympics history.
Hockey alone has provided 11 metals (8 gold, 1 silver and two bronze medals). Apart from the three in shooting, the Indians have got two each in athletics (pre-independence) and wrestling and one apiece from weightlifting, tennis and boxing.