Even as some of Indian sports’ biggest names disappointed one after the other at the London Games, Vijay Kumar, an unheralded armyman from Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur district shot himself to instant fame with a silver medal in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event at the Royal Artillary Barracks here yesterday.
On a day when India’s badminton ace Saina Nehwal lost her crucial semi-final encounter to World No 1 Wang Yihan of China and London Olympics bronze-winning marksman Gagan Narang failed to make it to the 50m rifle finals, subhedar Kumar was contesting a nerve-wracking final with five of the world’s top-notch pistol shooters.
Kumar overcame the challenge of world champion Alexei Klimov of Russia, the Chinese duo of Ding Feng and Zhang Jian and Germany’s star shooter Christian Reitz in the 40-shot final, finishing runner-up behind Cuba’s Leuris Pupo, who shot gold with a world record-equalling score of 34.
However, Kumar is no mean achiever on the international stage. He has over 20 international medals and 75 national medals to his name. Friends and colleagues in the Indian army always believed Kumar would win a medal. However, the 25-year-old’s habit of keeping a low profile at all times ensured he remained out of the media glare.
In the run-up to the Games too, even as the Indian shooting contingent’s biggies like Abhinav Bindra, Ronjan Sodhi and Narang had their profiles and achievements highlighted by the Indian and international media, Kumar remained silent. And when it mattered, his pistol did the talking.
Yesterday too, Vijay didn’t make a big fuss after emerging second-best and celebrated by simply raising his right hand holding aloft his all-important weapon. “I just treated this as any other competition so that I do not get overawed by the occasion,” said Kumar after his silver show.
He dedicated the medal to his father Bankoram Sharma, who also served in the Indian army, and credited coach Pavel Smirnov for his
Know more about Vijay Kumar...
>> Will celebrate his 27th birthday on August 19
>> Hails from Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh
>> Serves as subhedar in the Indian Army
>> An Arjuna award winner in 2007
>> Shot into the limelight after winning three gold medals and a silver at the 2010 Delhi CWG and set a record in 25m event
>> Won a bronze in the Asian Games of Doha (in 2006) and Guangzhou (in 2010)