London: Gagan Narang has provided India its first medal of the 2012 London Olympics, winning the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle event.
Narang shot 103.1 in a gripping ten-shot finals for an aggregate of 701.1 after scoring 598 in the qualifying round in which also he stood third. Alin George Moldoveanu of Romania won the gold, while Niccolo Campriani of Italy came up with a silver. Moldoveanu shot the same score as Narang - 103.1 - but came first by virtue of finishing first in the qualifying round at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
After a good start when he shot 10.7, Narang was off target with his second shot that fetched him 9.7. But he gathered his wits and steadied his aim to collect 10.6, 10.7, 10.4 and 10.6 in the following four shots to at one stage remain on course for bagging even a silver.
However, he slipped a bit and had to fight for the bronze medal with China's Wang Tao who finished fourth with 700.4. After returning poor scores of 9.9 and 9.5 in the seventh and eighth attempts, Narang pulled up his socks to seal the bronze with impressive scores of 10.3 and 10.7.
Earlier, Bindra, India’s shooting gold medallist in 2008, failed to make it past the qualifying event for the title he won in Beijing four years ago. He shot a round of 594 in the qualifiers, getting three nines in the sixth and final round which ruined his chances of qualifying.
He has struggled to confirm his supremacy over the past couple years, even slipping to 20th in the world rankings, but there widespread expectations that Bindra would defend the time he won on August 11, 2008.
(With PTI inputs)