Shooting star Abhinav Bindra turns into Indian icon

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New Delhi, Aug 11 (UNI) Abhinav Bindra's historic triumph at the Beijing Olympics today has turned him into a national sporting icon with awards and accolades pouring in from all over the country.

Bindra, who went into the final after finishing fourth in the qualifying round scoring 596 out 600, shot 104.5 in the final to notch up a total of 700.5 to upset his fancied rivals.

Lauding Bindra for his historic feat, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil said the Chandigarh lad has ''realised the dream of a billion Indians''.

''I am extremely delighted and proud to hear today that you have realised the dream of a billion Indians by winning the Olympic gold medal in the 10-metre air rifle at Beijing,'' the President said in her message.

''Your achievement is even greater as India has not won a gold at the Olympics after a very long gap of 28 years, but also because you have become the first ever Indian to win a gold medal at the Olympics in an individual event,'' she added.

''Your achievement should inspire confidence amongst all Indian sportspersons that they can achieve of any sport. It will inspire our youth to take up sports as a full time career. I wish him well for the future.'' Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi also praised the ace shooter.

Sports Minister MS Gill was effusive in his praise for the 2006 World Championhip winner with his ministry announcing a reward of Rs 30 lakh.

''Every Indian is walking taller today. It is a great achievement in the history of Indian sports. It will give confidence to all the Indian sportspersons in every disicpline, '' Gill told mediapersons at Beijing.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced a a free lifetime train pass by first AC (including Shatabdi and Rajdhani).

The cash registers have been ringing for Bindra with several states announcing cash awards. His home state Punjab announced a whopping amount of Rs one crore as reward while neighbouring state Haryana awarded Rs 25 lakh.

Bihar (Rs 11 lakh), Karnataka (Rs 10 lakh), Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh (Rs 5 lakh each) all chipped in with their contributions.

Even the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) jumped on to the bandwagon, announcing a reward of Rs 25 lakh.

Bindra's victory has scripted a new epoch in the history of Indian sports and will surely inspire future generations of sportspersons to scale new heights.

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