India began the week with its first Olympic medal of the London Games with Gagan Narang, the 29-year-old marksman, winning the bronze medal in the men’s 10-meter air rifle final.

Narang won the bronze following a tense final, in which the competitors’ rankings, including the top 3, changed by the shot. However, in the end Narang secured a comfortable third place after Alin George Moldonveanu of Romania, and Niccolo Campriani of Italy. India is now tied in 22nd place on the Olympic medal table.

Narang said the win was a “great stone” off his chest. “This is the only medal I didn’t have in my cabinet, so now I can pin it on there,” he said.However, the big shock of the day was star shooter and Beijing gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra’s failure to qualify for the final eight. “I am glad I came, I could have easily retired after Beijing,” he said at the end of the contest. “I now look forward to Rio.”

The Sports Minister, Mr Ajay Maken, said while he’d been looking forward to seeing two Indians on the winners’ podium, he was optimistic about the Indian team’s prospects. “There will be many more medals…I think this win will dramatically change the mood in the country, and the best thing is that many of our medal winners are yet to perform,” he said.

(This article was published on July 30, 2012)
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