All the celebrations and monetary rewards may be fine for 25-year-old Abhinav Bindra but what he said in his first blog entry after winning the gold is indeed very telling: ?It is fine to celebrate our achievements, but it is just as important to keep up the backing when we are not on top of our game.?
Though it has taken more than a century for an Indian to win an individual gold at the Olympics but there is a lesson in it for all and that is our authorities in charge of sports need not pat themselves on the back for this achievement for Abhinav'svictory has been more due to his own efforts.
It was indeed a proud moment for the billions as the Indian national anthem was played at the Olympic Games after a lapse of 28 years as it was last heard at the Moscow Games in 1980.
The question now uppermost is: Has India come of age in sports or is this just another flash in the pan?
Well, within two years from now Delhi would be the venue of the Commonwealth Games which is going to be a major international meet in the capital after a gap of 28 years and this achievement hopefully makes the adrenalin flow in our sportspersons.
In fact the credit for Abhinav'sgold should go to his father too who through his personal investment made a world-class shooting range at his farm house in Chandigarh with a 10M range where the athlete practiced for long hours and it was this single mindedness that enabled him to climb the victory podium in Beijing.
As the champion himself said he had his own ?precise system? which involved a life around the sport having a shooting range built at his farmhouse to avoid distractions and as he summed it up ?it all did pay off, didn'tit??
Now, this gives rise to a question as to how many sportspersons can afford what Abhinav could and why the sports bodies concerned are not doing enough to give facilities to our sportspersons.
Instead of having non-sportspersons heading our sports bodies, let us at least now have people who have played the game at some first class stage and let there be no hesitation in giving financial and other benefits to sportspersons who have the talent but are unable to nurture them for lack of facilities.
It is indeed ironical that shooting which unlike cricket or hockey does not have such a large following is the only sport which has brought India a gold and a silver at the Olympics with Rajyavardhan Rathore bagging the silver at the Athens in 2004 and now Abhinav taking the gold.
It is also a sad commentary that the world'ssecond most populous nation may be emerging as an economic superpower but is way behind in sporting achievements when in fact excellence in sports is what boosts other areas too.
Take the case of the host nation China, it has now become a powerhouse in sports and Abhinav'sachievement is all the more as he beat Athens gold medallist and China'shopes Zhu Qinan who had to be content with silver.
As the Chinese athlete said after the event that he had been intensely stressed by his desire to win ?another gold for my motherland.?
Here again the reaction of Abhinav'scool temperament when he said after the victory how he had to shut off the pressure.
?I wasn'ttrying to make history. I mean I was two points behind at one stage. I was just trying to concentrate. I just wanted to shoot well. I just wanted to shoot aggressively and that'swhat I did,? truly sums up the champion.
India first participated in the Paris Olympics of 1900. Norman Pritchard, an Anglo-Indian, bagged two silver medals in 200 metres and 200 metres hurdles. However, it cannot be regarded as a truly Indian medal as official records list Pritchard as having competed for Great Britain in 1900.
Apart from the eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronzes in hockey, bantamweight freestyle wrestler Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav gave India its first individual medal, winning bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games.
However, there is tragic aspect to Jadhav'sstory as recently reports appeared that his wife is now wallowing in poverty and barely able to make ends meet.
If this is going to be the fate of families of Indian Olympic medal winners, then who would want to pursue such an ambition. Maybe sounding pessimistic but that is what happens in India.
It took another 44 years for the next individual medal to come, till Leander Paes broke the jinx by clinching bronze in Atlanta (1996). Karnam Malleswari won a bronze in weightlifting in 2000 Sydney.
In showpiece track and field, apart from Pritchard, five Indians and the 4x400m women'srelay team have reached the finals of their events. The first was Henry Rebello in 1948 London (Triple Jump), then Milkha Singh 1960 Rome (400 metres, fourth), Gurbachan Singh Randhawa 1964 Tokyo (100 m hurdles, fifth), Sriram Singh 1976 Montreal (800m, seventh) and P.T Usha in 1984 Los Angeles (400m hurdles, fourth) who unfortunately lost her bronze by 1/100th of a second. The four-member squad of the 400m women'srelay Usha, M.D. Valsamma, Vandana Rao and Shiny Abraham reached seventh place the same year.
Besides, the men'sfootball team also got fourth place in the Melbourne Olympics by going down 0-3 to Bulgaria in the bronze medal play-off.