London: Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar says he was taken aback when people, including the media, expressed surprise on his podium finish here at the London Games.
"I have been getting phone calls from India. They say I turned out to be a dark horse. They want to know more about me. So, sometimes I do feel a bit sad but then I have learnt to take these things in my stride," said Vijay, who came second in the 25 metres rapid fire pistol event.
"I am a national champion since 2004 in my event. I won two gold medals with new (Commonwealth) Games record in the Melbourne edition (2006), a gold and bronze in Doha Asia Games, a silver in World Championship, three gold and a silver in 2010 Commonwealth Games, two bronze in Guangzhou Asian Games, and if still my medal winning performance has surprised people, I can't help."
Asked if he ever felt hurt for not getting the attention well deserved, Vijay said: "I am a human being, I will be telling you a lie if I say it did not matter but now I realise that this was a blessing in disguise, because not being in the limelight I was able to concentrate more on my event."
Was he expecting a medal here? "No, I was not, but like every sportsperson who is here, I wanted to win. I never told anybody about my emotions. But once I made the final, I had the feeling I will win. I retained my calm. I myself was surprised that making the cut did not ruffle me or make me nervous. I went into the final like I was shooting before. My composure helped me."
The Indian Army junior commissioned officer (JCO) said the feeling of winning an Olympic medal has not sunk in yet.
"I have been flooded with phone calls but still the feeling has not sunk in. This may be because I am still in Games village and there are so many medal winners around. Some of the world's best sports persons are here."
"Last evening I watched Usain Bolt. He was simply awesome. He showed the power of sports. He enthralled the packed stadium," Vijay said of Bolt's record-breaking streak in 100 metres.
Asked how he took up shooting, Vijay said: "I joined the army in 2001 and during training in 2003, my officers noticed that I am shooting well. So, they encouraged me to take up the sport and in 2004 I became national champion and after that I did not look back."