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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
India makes Olympic breakthrough
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

From left: Rajyavardhan Rathore, Ahmed Almaktoum and Zheng Wang
From left: Rathore, Ahmed Almaktoum and Zheng Wang
An Indian soldier has won his country's first ever individual silver medal at the Olympic Games.

Major Rajyavardhan Rathore came second in the men's double trap shooting event in Athens.

He scored 44 in the final round - behind Ahmed Almaktoum of the United Arab Emirates who won gold. China's Zheng Wang collected bronze.

Rathore's medal is India's first success in Athens since the competition began last weekend.

Kashmir veteran

Major Rathore, who has fought against separatist militants in Indian-administered Kashmir, took up competitive shooting only in 1998.

His rise has been nothing short of phenomenal.

If you ask me how it felt, I would say I wouldn't like to go through that again
Rajyavardhan Rathore

Only a few years ago, he competed in the All India Mavlankar championships, the qualifying event for the national championship.

He is now ranked third in the world in double trap shooting, an event that tests both skill and reflexes.

Rathore, 34, got the chance to compete in the Olympics after winning a bronze medal at the World Championship in Cyprus.

He recently said using a gun on the battlefield was easier than aiming for an Olympic gold.

"In the silence of competition, any fear within you is so highlighted you can hear the screams," he has said.

Confidence

Rathore started the season by winning gold at the World Cup in Sydney in March and two more gold medals have come his way in recent weeks, boosting his confidence.

He has trained for the last three months in Europe under Atlanta Olympic gold medallist Russel Mark of Australia.

Rathore reached the Olympic final of the men's double trap after finishing fifth with a tally of 135 points from three rounds in the preliminary stage.

The only other Indian athletes ever to win individual medals at the Olympics are Khashba Jadhav in the 1952 Helsinki Games, Leander Paes at Atlanta in 1996 and Karnam Malleshwari in Sydney 2000, all of them bronze medals.


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