First Gold Medal Thrills India

Olympic fever grips nation as local boy makes gold in marksmanship
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2008 5:35 AM CDT
Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, left, of India, is congratulated by IOC member Radhir Singh after Bindra won India's first gold medal since 1980.   (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
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(Newser) – A 25-year-old marksman became the first Indian ever to win a gold medal in an individual event yesterday, setting off an Olympic zeal rarely seen before in his country, the New York Times reports. By besting his Chinese and Finnish rivals in the nail-biting 10-meter air rifle finals, Abhinav Bindra erased memories of his disappointing performance in Athens.

Indians were both thrilled—and stunned. “I thought he was a nonresident Indian from Canada or United States,” said one woman. Bindra, who grew up practicing on a shooting range on his parents' farm, has been showered in prizes from national institutions and is now "an even more eligible bachelor," according to his mother.