Romanian crack shot Alin Moldoveanu took gold in the Olympic men’s 10m air rifle yesterday as India made a rare podium appearance, despite seeing their defending champion crash out in qualifying.
The bespectacled Moldoveanu did not know he had won the competition at London’s Royal Artillery Barracks after edging world champion Niccolo Campriani into silver medal position, with India’s Gagan Narang taking bronze.
Narang’s compatriot, defending Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, was knocked out in the earlier qualifying round.
Moldoveanu, who qualified for the final with an Olympic-record-equaling score of 599, held his nerve during a contest that saw constant flux at the top of the leaderboard to finish strongly and deny Campriani.
He notched a total of 702.1 points, taking advantage of a couple of slips from the Italian (701.5) on shots eight and nine.
Ranked a lowly 34th in the world, the 29-year-old eased the pain of Beijing in 2008, where he finished fourth.
“I’m overwhelmed. I cannot describe it in words. It’s crazy,” the delighted winner said, adding that he believed it was the Italian coach who first told him he had won. “It doesn’t matter how you are in the world ranking, it’s just the day that matters.”
Narang, 29, whose bronze marked a rare individual medal for India, said: “It’s amazing. I think I missed in Beijing by a whisker and I feel quite nice that I have won the bronze.”