Posted On Saturday, August 04, 2012 at 09:03:09 AM
He held the gun for the first time only nine years ago, there was not much hype around him before this Games, and he even injured his shoulder 15 days ago , but Vijay Kumar, the Army sharp shooter, brought joy to the nation by winning silver after a nerve-wracking battle with five other top marksmen in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event.
He beat the world champion Alexie Klimov of Russia, the Chinese duo of Ding Feng and Zhang Jian and the talented German Christian Rietz in the 40-shot final to finish second. Cuba’s Leuris Pupo shot his way to the gold with a world record equalling score of 34.
Vijay Kumar, 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. This is India’s second medal in this Olympics after fellow marksman Gagan Narang’s bronze in the 10m Air Rifle event on July 30.
This was also the country’s fourth medal in shooting in Olympic history. Kumar started with a bang, hitting the target all five times.
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 to be tied on the 1st position. However, he missed twice in the fourth and became joint second. The drama continued unabated.
He missed just once in the next round to retain his second position. Kumar found the target four times in the next two rounds as well. The German Reitz was eliminated at the end of the fifth, the Russian Klimov left by the sixth, and Feng departed by the 7th.
In the last round after Pupo shot four to clinch the gold, Kumar seemed to relax a bit and missed three targets. The bronze medal was won by Feng with a tally of 27. Kumar had earlier lifted the Indian shooting team’s spirit after Narang failed to qualify for the final of the 50m Rifle Prone, by entering the finals of his event through the preliminaries.
En route to his total score of 585, Kumar became the second shooter to break the previous Olympic record of 583 to give a hint of his potential during the second stage of qualification.
Placed fourth in the list, Kumar, who had scored 293 in stage 1 of the qualification on Thursday, shot a series of 98 97 97 in the second stage to take his total score to 585. He shot a sequence of 99 96 98 at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
The Army man then successfully competed with five shooters for a medal. Pre-Games medal favourite Ronjan Sodhi had yesterday failed to qualify for the double trap event. Klimov had created a new world record by shooting 592 but he could not replicate that in the final.
He scored a total of 592 after Stage 2, breaking the existing world record of 591 and Olympic record of 583, with 294 points in Stage 1 and a staggering 298 out of 300 in Stage 2. - With Agency Inputs
► I was trying to control myself and I shot according to that. I injured my shoulder 15 days before the Olympics, but I took some rest
- Vijay Kumar, After Winning Silver