Shooting a gun for the country is not a new vocation for Vijay Kumar's family. But on Friday, the 27-year-old army subedar ensured a victory unmatched on a turf rarely conquered by India, and the first Olympic medal for Himachal Pradesh, as he struck silver in the 25m rapid-fire pistol event at the London Games.
"It was just a matter of time," said Vijay's father Banku Ram, who also served the Indian army as subedar, speaking from the family native village Harsour in Hamirpur.
"I was always sure of Vijay's shooting skills and knew that one day he will get a medal in the Olympics. I can't be more proud. This is the best moment ever for me."
Vijay, who won multiple gold medals in the 2006 and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, gave India her second medal of the London Olympics but could not get past Cuba's Leuris Pupo, who kept his cool to win his country's first gold of the Olympics.
Pupo scored 34 to edge out Vijay, who hit 30 out of a possible 40. China's Ding Feng won bronze after being edged out by Vijay by one point in the final elimination round at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Russia's Alexei Klimov had set a new world record of 592 in qualifying, but struggled in the final after two low-scoring rounds early on, and eventually finished fourth. India's other medal so far is Gagan Narang's bronze in the 10metre air rifle.
Vijay's mother Roshni Devi struggled to put her feelings into words: "God has blessed Vijay!" Banku Ram said that his son developed interest in shooting only after joining the army, in which he serves the 16th Dogra Regiment.
"He liked to play other games with the village boys, mostly volleyball and cricket. He did sometimes have a have keen look at my guns," said Banku Ram.
"Our belief became stronger when last visited us. He was a tad upset at not getting the Parshu Ram Award given by the state government to sportsmen, but all he talked about all the time was an Olympic medal," said Rajesh Kumar, a fellow villager.
CM announces Rs. 1 crore reward
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced Rs. 1 crore as reward for Hamirpur marksman Vijay Kumar, who won silver at the Olympics on Friday.
Vijay will also get the Himachal Gaurav award on Independence Day, August 15.
"The village boy has brought great laurels for the state. It is matter of pride for our small state," Dhunla said.
State Congress chief Kaul Singh Thakur said the party would felicitate Vijay, and Punjab deputy CM Sukbir Badal also sent a congratulatory message.