In Indian sports, many promise but very few deliver. Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore became the first individual winner of a silver medal of independent India providing a big morale boost to the nation, after the bronze medals won by Leander Paes in Atlanta and Karnam Malleswari in Sydney. The way almost all the Indian players disappointed their countrymen, the 34-year-old Major Rathore'ssilver was like a gold for over 100 crore Indians. He shot 179 out of 200, one point ahead of Wang Zheng of China, to finish second. Ever since he won the bronze medal in the World Championship last year, Rathore had been a sure prospect for an Olympic medal. ?I am happy that people will now believe we can win silver medals in the Olympics. Self-belief is the key to success. It will be great if people started focusing more on the Olympic disciplines,? said Rathore, after receiving the medal in Athens.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh congratulated Rathore for his breath taking achievement. Dr Kalam said the silver medal was a reward for Rathore'shard work and has brought ?unprecedented joy to the whole nation.? Shri Shekhawat said, ?Rathore has done the nation proud by his outstanding achievement.?
Major Rathore is an officer in the Indian Army and hails from an Army family of Rajasthan. His father, Col. Laxman Singh and uncle, Brig J.S. Rathore, VrC, have themselves been keen marksmen. Brig. J.S. Rathore has authored the famous book, One Bullet, One Enemy, on marksmanship. Major Rathore'swife, Dr Gayatri Rathore has provided him moral support which also enabled him to win worldwide acclaim.
A graduate from the National Defence Academy, Major Rathore was commissioned into the Army from the Indian Military Academy with the Sword of Honour. He has been an instructor at the Infantry School, Mhow and is presently posted at the Army Marksmanship Unit, Mhow where he has trained to reach this stupendous height.
Major Rathore'sother recent achievements include wining of the prestigious ISSF World Cup gold medal at Sydney and three successive gold medals at the first Afro-Asian Games held in Hyderabad last year. He also won the Asian Clay Shooting Championship held at Bangkok in July this year and the Masters Cup Shooting Championship in Czech Republic on July 22 this year. He had earned the coveted Olympic quota by winning a bronze in World Shooting Championship in Delhi. He has so far won four gold and two bronze medals at various international competitions. At the national scene he has been the undisputed champion.
General N.C. Vij, the Army Chief, felicitated Major Rathore on his return from Athens and on behalf of the Indian Army presented him with a cheque of Rs 10 lakh as a token of appreciation.