Bindra shoots gold

Abhinav Bindra... in top form.-SANDEEP SAXENA

The Olympic gold medallist shot 596 in the qualification and 102.9 in the final to aggregate 698.9. He finished ahead of local hopes Valerian Sauveplane (698.3) and Etienne Germond (695.7).

India's ace marksman Abhinav Bindra bagged the 10-metre air rifle gold medal at the first Grand Prix of France Air Rifle Competition in Fleury Les Aubrais, some 128 km from Paris, on February 20.

Bindra shot 596 in the qualification and 102.9 in the final to aggregate 698.9. He finished ahead of local hopes Valerian Sauveplane (698.3) and Etienne Germond (695.7).

The Beijing Olympic gold medallist had a sequence of 9.9, 10.5, 10.4, 10.6, 10.6, 10.2, 10.6, 10.4, 9.9 and 9.8 in the final.

Bindra, who was issued an ultimatum recently by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to participate in the ongoing National Games in Ranchi, is assured of a place in the Indian squad for the first two World Cups, according to the National coach, Sunny Thomas.

The shooter was training in Munich prior to the competition in France and is expected to compete in the trials scheduled from March 1-10 in New Delhi during a camp for the shooters of the National squad.

Bindra created history by becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

* * * SURESH BABU PASSES AWAY

S. MAHINSHA

Olympian Suresh Babu, who had inspired a lot of youngsters to take up athletics in the 1970s and 80s, died at a hospital in Ranchi on February 19 after vomiting blood. He was 58 and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Suresh Babu, who won the long jump gold medal in the 1978 Asian Games, was in Ranchi as the chef de mission of the Kerala contingent for the National Games. Put up at the Khel Gaon (Athletics Village) near the Mega Sports Complex in the outskirts of the city, Suresh Babu fell ill on the morning of February 19 as he vomited blood. He was rushed to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences where he was declared dead at around 11.30 a.m. due to liver cirrhosis.

Holder of National titles in jump events and decathlon, Suresh Babu dominated the track and field between 1972 and 1979 and was the recipient of the Arjuna Award. He first represented India at the Olympics — Munich, 1972 — at the age of 19. But his claim to fame came after two years, at the Asian Games in Tehran, when he won his first medal, a bronze, in the decathlon.

The following year, Suresh Babu won the decathlon title in the Asian Championships in Seoul. In between, he captained the Indian Universities athletics team at the World Universities Games in Moscow in 1973.

At the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton (Canada), Suresh Babu concentrated on long jump and won the bronze medal. But his biggest moment of glory came in the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok where he won the long jump gold. Though Suresh Babu's gold-winning effort (7.85 metres) was far short of T. C. Yohannan's 8.07 metres (Tehran Asian Games, 1974), he helped maintain India's supremacy in long jump in the Asian Games.