Vijay shoots silver

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Army marksman becomes second Indian to win individual silver

Army shooter Vijay Kumar made India proud by winning a welcome silver medal at the London Olympics in the men’s 25 metre rapid fire pistol event.

Vijay Kumar, a junior commissioned officer (JCO) in the 16 Dogra Regiment, ensured a finish on the podium scoring 30 in the final after Cuba’s Leuris Pupo gave his country its first gold of the Olympics by carding 34.

His performance more than compensated for a poor show from Gagan Narang, who failed to make it to the final of this event after taking the 18th slot in the qualifiers.

Kumar thus became the second Indian after double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to win an individual Olympic silver medal. Rathore achieved his feat in 2004 Athens Games.

“There was lot of pressure on me but I stuck to my plans and came out well,” an elated Kumar said at the Royal Artillery Barracks. “This medal means such a lot to me. It has been my dream to win an Olympic medal. This is the highest you can get”.

He added, “I was focused like I normally am for other competitions. But this is the Olympic Games and it is very special. You can never blank out the fact that you are competing in the Olympic Games but I managed to remain focused. I knew I had to keep control over my nerves. This was my first Olympics, I knew I had to concentrate and never let that falter”.

The 26-year-old’s success came after Joydip Karmakar finished tantalisingly close to a medal in the men’s 50 metres rifle prone, finishing fourth amongst the eight-man field.

For Vijay’s family it was a disappointment that later turned into a big celebration in the nondescript village of Badsar in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh.

“Had the cable connection to our home not snapped at the last moment, I would have seen my son’s medal-winning moment in the comfort of my home with other family members also watching,” an upbeat Vijay’s father Subedar (Retd) Banku Ram told IANS.
He said the entire family was glued to the television when the cable connection suddenly snapped.
“Finally we moved to a nearby shop to watch the television and saw my son garnering Olympic glory,”

56-year-old Ram, whose mobile phone was continuously ringing with congratulatory calls, said.

Vijay’s house was bustling with villagers, relatives and officials of the district administration.

Elated mum Roshni said she got a call from London from Vijay immediately after the event. “He said he’s satisfied with his feat and his dream fulfilled.”

Vijay joined the army at the age of 16. Serving as a Subedar in the Indian army, Vijay took up shooting in 2001 and his father said he never expected his son to reach such heights.

“I never thought he would reach this level. My happiness has no bounds,” he said.

Vijay had spoken to his father two hours before the event.

“He was quite confident about winning the medal,” Ram.

He had no regrets that his son missed the gold. “No… not at all. I am very happy with silver. I think it’s no less than a gold for us.”

Congratulating the shooter, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said: “It’s a matter of great pride and honour for the state. We will honour Vijay Kumar with Himachal Gaurav Award Aug 15,” he told IANS.

The state government has already announced a cash award of Rs.1 crore to the shooter.

President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated shooter Vijay Kumar on winning a silver medal at the London Olympics, and said the army man has done “India proud.”

“The whole country joins you and your family in celebrating this impressive achievement,” he added.

Kumar thus became the second Indian after double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to win an individual Olympic silver medal. Rathore achieved his feat in 2004 Athens Games.