London:NDTV: Vijay Kumar has fetched India a Silver. It’s first at the London Olympics, its second individual Silver in any Olympics in the last 100 years.
As the Indian shooter took focused aim for his final series of five shots in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event today, he knew even a perfect five would not fetch him the Gold. The difference between him and Cuba’s Leuris Pupo was unbridgeable. Seconds ago Pupo had shot a five to get him to an unassailable 34.
Although Vijay Kumar’s last round was not spectacular as he could shoot only two out of the possible five. But the Siver was his. And India’s.
“I stuck to my plans and executed them well,” he added.
To get that eighth round of shooting versus Pupo, Vijay had first qualified for the final with a score of 285 and then shot 28 in the first seven rounds. He finished with 30. The 26-year-old army subedar from Himachal Pradesh found the target 30 times out of 40 attempts in the series comprising eight rounds of five shots each.
Kumar dedicated his medal to his state and said: “My medal will be a big boost for the state of Himachal Pradesh.”
Vijay Kumar started with a bang, hitting the target all five times and kept himself in the hunt for a medal by consistently finding the target. After a perfect five out of five at the start, Kumar, a double gold medallist in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, found the target four times in the second and third series, but missed it twice in the fourth.
He came back strongly by finding the target four times in the next three rounds and assured himself of a silver. In the last round after Pupo shot four to clinch the gold, Kumar seemed to relax a bit and missed three targets.
Feng Ding of China took the bronze medal.
In the final, Kumar was assured of a medal after the elimination of the trio of Russia’s Alexei Klimov (23), Jian Zhang (17) and Christian Reitz (13) leaving himself, Pupo and Feng in the fray.
The silver was in his bag when Feng missed twice in the seventh round and Kumar replied with four.
Kumar had earlier lifted the Indian shooting team’s spirit after the flop show by Gagan Narang, who failed to qualify for the final of the 50m Rifle Prone, by entering the finals of his event through the preliminaries.
Russia’s Alexei Klimov, who provided all of India with a flutter and a heartbreak earlier in the day, created a new world record with his qualifying score of 592, but he was eliminated in the sixth series. For Vijay Kumar did better the Olympic record of 583 with his combined 585 in both stages of qualification.
But Alexei Klimov had already created a new World Record with his 592; the previous world record was 583.
India’s only other success in these Olympics is also a shooting medal, a bronze won by ace Gagan Narang in the 10m Air Rifle event.
Minutes after Kumar’s win, his father, a retired Army subedar, said his son was sure he would get a medal. “I spoke to him and he sounded calm. He told me he will get a medal today. He was not sure which one but he said he will get one for sure,” the proud father said.
He also said that since his son’s success in USA, where he took a silver in the World Cup, Vijay has been delivering consistently. This medal, however, was the crowning glory, he said.