Monday, August 11, 2008

India fetes first gold medallist

Gold winner Abhinav Bindra of India celebrates on the podium following the men"s 10m air rifle shooting finals
Bindra is a hero in India

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lavished praise on Abhinav Bindra, the country's first individual Olympic gold medallist.

Mr Singh said that Bindra's achievement- he claimed the men's 10m air rifle shooting title - was a "golden performance".

The Indian President, Pratibha Patil, has also lauded Bindra's feat.

India, winners of eight hockey gold medals, had never won an individual Olympic title before Bindra's success.

Bindra's win has led news on Indian TV channels and websites, which have described it as "historic".

He did tough commando training in Germany for three weeks prior to the Olympics
AS Bindra, father

Journalists descended on the Bindra family home in Chandigarh in the northern state of Punjab as soon as news of the win came in.

Reports said that the shooter's family had organised prayers ahead of his contest in Beijing.

"We are very proud of our son. He has done a great thing for the country. We will be rushing to [the capital] Delhi to receive him when he returns on Thursday," news agencies quoted his mother Babli Mishra telling reporters.

Mrs Mishra said the family would visit Punjab's famous Golden temple to "pay obeisance for his success".

The gold medallist's father said his son had worked hard to achieve the feat.

"He paid a lot of attention towards physical training despite his back injury. He did tough commando training in Germany for three weeks prior to the Olympics," said AS Bindra, who is a businessman.

Members of India's governing parties also announced cash rewards for Bindra.

The federal railway minister was reported to have announced the shooter would be receiving a free travel pass.


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