New Delhi: The only Indian to win an individual gold medal in Olympics, shooter Abhinav Bindra, has been recommended for the Bharat Ratna -- the country`s highest civilian honour -- by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
On August 11, 2008, the 30-year-old reserved marksman from Zirakpur, Punjab scripted history when he shot an incredible 700.5 to clinch the yellow metal in the Beijing Olympic Games.
"We have recommended Abhinav Bindra`s name as he is India`s only individual gold medal winner in Olympics. What he has achieved for the country in the biggest sporting event is for all of us to see," said NRAI adviser Baljeet Singh Sethi.
"This will not only encourage upcoming shooters but also youngsters aspiring to make a career of out of sports. This will be very good for sports," the official added.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister`s Office, the NRAI made the recommendation.
"We hereby recommend the name of Abhinav Bindra, Olympian gold-medallist who created history by winning the first individual gold medal in 2008 Olympic Games held at Beijing. This is the only gold medal by an Indian athlete in Olympic Games and deserves the highest award of the land," NRAI president Raninder Singh said in the letter.
None of Bindra`s shots in the final dropped below 10.0 on that historic August afternoon.
"He won the individual gold medal and the team silver during the 12 Asian Shooting Championship held in Doha and was also a part of the Indian contingent that won participated in Olympic Games at London in 2012.
"We strongly recommend that he may be conferred the `Bharat Ratna Award` for his excellent achievement in sports," Raninder added.
Bindra`s was also India`s first gold medal in Olympics since the 1980 edition in Moscow, where the men`s field hockey team won the top prize.
Originally, sportspersons were not eligible for the Bharat Ratna but the criteria was altered in 2011 after there was a clamour for Sachin Tendulkar to be honoured with it even though the star cricketer has not yet been conferred the award.