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India clinched its first ever individual Olympic gold medal in 108 years when Abhinav Bindra won the 10 meter air rifle event in one of the most pulsating shooting finals in the history of the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

The historic victory for the 25-year-old pro from Chandigarh came against heavy odds as he entered the event ranked number 17 in the world and pitted against Athens Olympic champion Zhu Qinan of China and Henri Hakkinen of Finland rated much higher than him.

But Bindra proved that reputation and history counted little as he overcame a two-point deficit against Zhu and Haikkinen after the qualifying round and annexed the title.

Bindra emerged triumphant in the 10-shot final with a finish of 104.5, taking his tally of points to 700.5 as against Zhu’s silver winning performance of 699.7 (597+102.7) and 699.4 (598+101.4) by Hakkinen, which gave the Finn Army marksman the bronze.

His first shot of the final a 10.7 saw him move to the third place and by the time he was preparing to shoot his fourth, the Indian had risen to the second spot.

A 10.6 on his seventh attempt earned Bindra the lead and in the deciding shot he got 10.8, way ahead of 10.5 by the Chinese and 9.7 by the Finn to bring India the first ever gold medal by an individual since the country first participated in Olympics in 1900.

The businessman from Chandigarh also ended India’s wait for a gold since the hockey team fetched a yellow metal in the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

“It can’t better than this. Can it?” an elated but composed Bindra said soon after achieving the feat.

“I sincerely hope my medal changes the face of India’s Olympic sports,” the bespectacled shooter told reporters.

As Bindra bowed his head to receive the gold medal from the Princess of Lichtenstein, a small country in central Europe, and the Indian national anthem was played out for the first time in this edition of Olympics, the shooter had his feet firmly on the ground, betraying little emotions.

“For me, life will go on as usual but I sincerely hope Olympic sports get a leg-up. It’s not a priority back home and I hope more focus is paid to these events like shooting,” he said.

Asked about his scorching run in the finals, Abhinav said it was a conscious plan to pull out all stops and it paid off.

“I entered the final as fourth, which means I had to go all out for it. That’s why I was so aggressive and it paid off in the end. I guess it was my day,” he said.

Bindra, whose career at one stage was jeopardised by a nagging back injury, said it was not easy to keep himself keyed up all along.

“I worked hard, left home and trained in Germany. It only proves that if you keep working hard, you would have your day someday and fortunately, it was my day today.

“My parents, family and coaches stood by me all along and I owe it to them,” he said.

Even in his hour of supreme glory, Bindra was magnanimous towards his rival when he applauded Zhu for his performance and said “he should be happy that he won a medal”.

Bindra’s compatriot Gagan Narang too almost made it to the final but was ruled out on countback. Gagan scored 595, levelled at the fifth place but lost out on a final place in countback.

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Abhinav-Bindra-wins-Indias-first-ever-solo-Olympic-gold/347366/

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Gold medallist Abhinav Bindra of India with silver medallist Zhu Qinan of China and bronze medallist Henri Hakkinen of Finland

Gold medallist Abhinav Bindra of India with silver medallist Zhu Qinan of China and bronze medallist Henri Hakkinen of Finland

Beijing, Aug 11: Even the ever-calm Abhinav Bindra couldn’t control his emotions at the press conference following his gold winning exploits at Beijing. “I can’t describe how happy I am,” he said. Bindra pipped the likes of reigning Olympic champion Qinan Zhu to grab the gold medal in the 10m air rifle event to win first ever individual gold medal for India.

“It’s the thrill of my life. That’s about it. It’s hard to describe. I just went for it. I knew I was lying in fourth. Thankfully it went my way and I just went for it.”

Bindra, who faced criticism for failing to deliver on the great promise he showed as a child, said he was not thinking about making history in India with a first individual gold medal. In fact, he said, he was “not thinking about anything”.

“I was just trying to concentrate on shooting,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking of making history. I was two points behind the leaders. I was just trying to shoot good shots. I wanted to shoot well and shoot aggressively. And that’s what I did.”

His 10.8 of a possible 10.9 on his final shot sparked loud celebrations from group of fans from India.

‘It couldn’t have got better’

Randhir Singh, Indian Olympic Association secretary-general and a former shooter himself, was present at the range. He admitted being stricken by nerves as the competition reached its climax.

“I haven’t prayed so much in my life. With the second last shot they tied together and then he (Bindra) shot a 10.8. It couldn’t have got better,” he told Indian television.

National Shooting coach Sunny Thomas said, “We are really proud of his achievement.”

He also reinforced his confidence in the boys adding, “This is just the beginning.”

On his gold winning pupil he said that Bindra was a very calm and composed person and his focus also rubbed on the other players in the Indian contingent. His views were echoed by Abhinav’s father who also added that God had rewarded his son’s efforts from the past 12 years.

President Patil congratulates Abhinav Bindra

President Pratibha Patil Monday congratulated Abhinav Bindra who made history when he won a gold medal for the 10-metre air rifle event at the Beijing Olympics – India’s first individual gold medal in the Olympics.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sports Minister MS Gill also sent their messages. Gill lauded Bindra’s achievement, calling him pride of the nation.

“Finally, we got an individual gold last time we saw gold was when the Indian hockey team won it in 1980. Youth in the country got a new icon in him and hope they are drawn more into Olympic sports”. Kalmadi said. “Cricket rules the roost in India but now the youngsters have a role model who plays some other sport. It augurs well for us,” he said.

“It was a proud moment for all of us here and back home. To see the Indian flag being raised and the national anthem being played made us feel proud of our country.

It’s an unforgettable moment,” he added.

This is a step forward and I hope we would have more athletes who would emulate Bindra,” Kalmadi added.

Windfall awaits Bindra

The BCCI also extended their congratulations to him while announcing a cash award of Rs. 2.5 million to the Beijing Olympic gold medallist.

“Hearty congratulations to Abhinav Bindra for winning India’s first-ever individual gold medal at the Olympics. He has done the country proud. His achievement heralds a new era for Indian sport,” BCCI President Sharad Pawar said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a further windfall awaits Bindra on his homecoming. The Punjab government has pledged a sum of Rs 1 cr for Bindra, while the Chattisgarh and the Maharashtra government have set aside a sum of Rs 1 lakh and 10 lakhs respectively. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav will present Bindra with a railway golden pass.

The Bihar government has also declared a prize of Rs 11 lakhs for Bindra.

  1. Interesting Olympic Facts
  2. A History of the Olympics
  3. Abhinav Bindra wins India’s first ever solo Olympic gold

Source: http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?aid=461581&sid=ARC

Result Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets

Series Sri Lanka won the 3-match series 2-1
Test debut KTGD Prasad (Sri Lanka)
Player of the match KC Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
Player of the series BAW Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Drip by drip, Sri Lanka made their way to a comprehensive series win, their first over India since 2001. On what turned out to be the final day of the series, Sri Lanka did not attack overtly, and kept their composure at crucial junctures – when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman had a long partnership, and also when India struck with two early wickets, after Sri Lanka came out in pursuit of 122.

A bowler short, a batsman limping, the No. 11 in no shape to bat, and only 14 runs ahead with half the team gone, India started the day as no-hopers, but they managed to give Sri Lanka a few nervous moments. Dravid and Laxman – who was nursing an ankle injury – provided resistance for about 90 minutes. Harbhajan Singh played a cameo to take the lead beyond 100, and then took a wicket in his first over.

Sri Lanka seemed in no hurry. They waited patiently, bowled in the right areas, and got the last five Indian wickets without much damage. It was Ajantha Mendis who broke the resistance, dismissing Dravid half an hour before lunch. And when Harbhajan, who hit five boundaries in his 26, looked to take India towards a sizeable lead, Chaminda Vaas, that epitome of discipline, struck in the first over he bowled after his three with the first new-ball.

When India struck early, reducing them to 22 for 2, Sri Lanka didn’t look to hit out, and waited instead for Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan to tire. Harbhajan, who opened the bowling in Ishant Sharma’s absence, bowled Michael Vandort with an arm-ball; and Zaheer Khan got Kumar Sangakkara soon after on the check-drive. Malinda Warnapura and Mahela Jayawardene weathered the storm, survived lbw shouts, and were content to add only 23 in 10.3 overs before tea.

The two went on to frustrate the Indian bowlers after tea, too. They never looked harried, kept rotating the strike, and by the time the Indians had frustrated themselves into exhausting their reviews, started to have some fun with sweeps – both orthodox and reverse. The only contest in the end was whether Jayawardene would get to a half-century as Warnapura had done earlier. Jayawardene was 46 and Sri Lanka three short of the win when he square-cut Sourav Ganguly for a four to end the match.

That India had a semblance of a chance when they began bowling was thanks to the partnership between Laxman and Dravid. Coming out of bad patches, they took the first steps towards what briefly seemed to be an incredible comeback, before they were stopped. Nonetheless it was the best partnership between two of the Fab Four in this series. The two looked comfortable reading the spinners, nudging and flicking for singles at ease, and capitalising on the fields set by rotating the strike. Laxman, who had Gautam Gambhir running for him, was visibly in pain, limping away to square leg when he got singles.

VVS Laxman scored a fighting 61 not out despite an injured ankle, but finally ran out of partners © AFP

Dravid and Laxman lasted as long as they did thanks in no small measure to Sri Lanka’s strategy: for much of the time, they didn’t employ conspicuously attacking fields, and gave away singles for free as they tried to prevent boundaries. As a result, despite the time consumed, India’s lead never reached threatening proportions.

The day started with Dravid closing in on his first half-century of the series, which he brought up with a punched boundary off Mendis. He then settled down again, looking determined as he played the most confident innings by an Indian middle-order batsman in the series. Laxman at the other end received plenty of favours from Sri Lanka. When he was on 35, he edged Muttiah Muralitharan, but there was no slip. The field at that time had no slip and no silly point, and had a short mid-on, a short midwicket, a short square leg, and a backward square leg. In Murali’s next over, Laxman was dropped by Thilan Samaraweera at short mid-on. After he got to his second half-century of the series, he was dropped by Malinda Warnapura at forward short leg.

In between those drops and missed chances, he hit Dammika Prasad for two delightful boundaries, but those were about the only quick runs India got from Sri Lanka, who stuck to their plan of not letting India run away with the game, testing their patience and resolve, knowing the wicket-taking delivery would come.

Come it did, courtesy Mendis, who, bowling from round the stumps, drew Dravid forward and got the ball to move enough to take the edge. Then Murali, who had started from over the stumps, came back round, and got Kumble lbw with an accurate offbreak. Mendis ended with 26 wickets, the best for a debutant in a three-match series, and Murali with 21.

Sri Lanka have now won 13 of their last 16 series at home, and have not lost to India at home since 1993. The way Mendis and Murali bowled through the series bodes well for the continuation of Sri Lanka’s near-invincibility at home. It could signal the beginning of the end for the most feared middle order in world cricket.

Source: http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/slvind/content/story/364645.html

“He is talented, very talented, but has no brains,” was Geoff Boycott’s on-air verdict after Virender Sehwag’s attempt to hook a ball from outside off stump found the fielder at deep square leg and triggered a first-innings collapse at the SSC.

Sehwag’s response to a question regarding his approach after his maverick innings – a 15th Test century at a strike-rate of 104.91 – was deadpan. “How can I stop the way I’ve played?” he said. “Yes, there is pressure if wickets fall and you think ‘What if I go for a shot and get out too?’ But if that happens you’re never going to score runs.”

After two batting collapses in the first Test it was imperative that India got a solid start. Sehwag provided that by using a simple mantra: if the ball is there to be hit, hit it. Circumstances rarely affect Sehwag and he put the pedal to the metal. A whip off the pads past midwicket got him started, a wild sweep that was unsuccessfully referred didn’t stall him, and when he charged Ajantha Mendis and swung him over cow corner for six, Sehwag was at full throttle.

The stand-out feature was the effortless manner in which Sehwag handled Mendis, who was virtually unplayable in Colombo. The key, in his own simple words, was that here Sehwag “picked him [Mendis] off the track, from where the ball pitched”, something only he and and Sachin Tendulkar have managed to do in this series.

When Mendis tossed the ball up on middle and off, Sehwag smothered the spin, and when the bowler drifted on to middle, he went back and turned it fine. If it spun in sharply, Sehwag adjusted his back leg and brought his bat down quickly to kill the ball. Sehwag also picked the two-fingered googly and moved back to cut or punch through the off-side. He failed to beat cover with the drive once but replayed the shot two balls later with more power and placed it to perfection. Mendis’ first four overs cost 29.

Sehwag accelerated and yet remained in control with Gautam Gambhir, fleet-footed against spin, in the passenger seat. There were cracks at one end of the pitch and Nuwan Kulasekera asked a few questions but Sehwag steered clear of them. He cut Muttiah Muralitharan’s first ball, a doosra from around the stumps, to reach his half-century off 50 balls. His strike rate, like a speedometer, fluctuated from 60 to 98 and beyond. India’s 100 came from 115 balls and Sehwag’s contribution was 59.

Like Sri Lanka did at the SSC, he and Gambhir ran hard, hustling for the second, and constantly looking for scoring opportunities. Sehwag and Aakash Chopra, another Delhi team-mate, did this effectively during the majority of their 19 partnerships, notably in Australia in 2003-04. Some of today’s singles were risky but the intent was obvious and it frustrated Sri Lanka.

In the over before lunch, Sehwag put his arm around Gambhir’s shoulder and had a word. Gambhir reached his fifty off the next ball and a beaming Sehwag rushed to congratulate him. When Sehwag dabbed a single behind point to raise the 150 partnership, he punched gloves with Gambhir as they crossed. How many batsmen can power a side to 150 for 0 at lunch? The camaraderie was plain to see.

After a four-hour rain delay, Mendis tested Gambhir with his variation but at the other end Sehwag disdainfully smashed Vaas over cow corner off his second ball after the resumption. Two balls later he played a booming straight drive to reach his century, which he celebrated with a proud wave of the bat to the dressing room and an embrace from his partner. His 15th hundred took only 87 balls with 15 fours and two sixes but the message was deeper.

At the MCG, in 2003-04, India were 311 for 3 but collapsed for 366 after Sehwag was dismissed for 195 at the end of the first day. In Adelaide earlier this year Sehwag scored 151 out of India’s 269 in the second innings. Today, Sehwag had driven India to a position of strength at 167 for 0 before four wickets fell in 20 balls for 11 runs. As he had done against England in Galle during the winter, Chaminda Vaas, rejuvenated after the rain delay, struck twice in an over. Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were dismissed with the score on 178 and the morning’s work had come undone.

“I didn’t notice any change in my batting after the four-hour break in play,” Sehwag said. “Every batsman has his own mindset with which he plays, but I just played my shots.” Even as stumps approached, Sehwag relied on his base instinct. Mendis went around the stumps and Sehwag used his feet to smash him down the ground and hit two consecutive fours through cover.

Sehwag had fulfilled his responsibility of providing a sound start but the collapse meant that he had to hold the innings together. His unshakeable approach did not change. “I am not satisfied because there’s plenty left in this game,” was Sehwag’s closing statement. “If I can convert this into a double-century or more tomorrow, get India above 400-500, apply pressure on Sri Lanka, then I will be satisfied.”

Crushed in Colombo, India arrived in Galle needing to find a way to bounce back. Only a vivid imagination could have conceived of a fightback without it being led by Sehwag. Like the white breakers of the Indian Ocean, lashing across the rocks in the background of the Galle International Stadium, Sehwag has injected life into a one-sided series.

He has brains alright, and he’s used them rather well.

Source: http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/slvind/content/current/story/363146.html


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