With the Olympic fever gripping sports fans, a favourite pastime has been to count the medals that India can possibly win. It may not be wise to count the chickens before they are hatched, but there is no fear for sure, of egg on the face.
For, Indian sports has definitely leaped ahead on the silver medal of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in the 2004 Athens Games, and there has only been an onward march, with Abhinav Bindra winning the country’s first ever individual Olympic gold in Beijing.
It has been an inspiring story for Indian sports, and a greater joy was hearing it from Col. Rathore himself, once more. Not many may remember that he was one of the strongest double trap shooters in the world in the run-up to the Athens Games, and had beaten the then world champion Daniele di Spigno of Italy by eight points to the gold in the world cup at Sydney in 2004.
It was a phenomenal show of ability as Rathore, leading by five points before the final, added three more to the margin.
“I worked hard and had very good results in 2002, 2003 and 2004 before the Olympics. I believed that I had rightfully earned to say, I own this place, the Olympics arena. Who can challenge me? When I used to twirl the globe, I used to ask myself which country can challenge me, and found none,” said Rathore with conviction.It was his maiden Olympics, but Rathore felt at home in the electrifying atmosphere of the Games.
“It is a mental game. You don’t get excited by just being there in the Olympics. If you get excited, you may not be able to handle the situation when you reach a winning position. You will become nervous and lose,” pointed out Rathore.
Of course, there was a lot of drama and uncertainty before the traditional olive wreath crowned his head.
“It all depends on the fire within you, and how much you deserve to be there. Deserve is a sanitised word for me. After the low score (43) in the second round, I was placed 13th.”
As it turned out, he regained his composure.
In the given circumstances, after Ahmed Al Maktoum of UAE had taken a big lead, silver was the best anyone could aspire for in that intense final; Rathore had to shoot both the birds at the end to provide that silver lining to Indian sports. He eventually did.