In August 2008, Abhinav Bindra created history when he became the first Indian shooter to win an Olympic gold. It was also India’s first gold after 20 years. And although Bindra has retired from the sport today, he continues to be passionately involved in encouraging and promoting sportspersons through various initiatives, including the setting up of Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance (ABTP) centres in different parts of the country. He even invited all the athletes present at the March 2 Goa Rugby Union Season Launch to train at these centres.
Sharing his personal journey with the audience, Bindra opened up about how he came to take up shooting as a sport. “I was the fat boy who was a champion at ditching physical education classes in school. That was my real talent,” he recalled. However he was taken up by shooting when he was introduced to the sport. “I loved it because you just had to stand still. In fact that’s the real reason I took up the sport,” he joked. He however reiterated that standing still is in fact no easy task. “Shooting looks easy because it appears like you just stand still. But the human body is not meant to stand still. You are doing something contrary to nature,” he said.
Of course, as a young teenage boy he was at first attracted to the fame that could come with the sport. But this, he says, was later replaced by just motivation to win the Olympic gold. “Every person has limitations and tries to overcome them. I was never a confident person. I had a lot of anxiety when I competed and I had to work on that. It was a lot of tedious work and the Olympics was some of the scariest moments,” he said. It was sheer hard work and perseverance that helped him, he added. What also helped him cope with the Olympics pressure was a detachment from the final outcome. Recalling the winning moments, Bindra stated that he was just happy that he had given his best shots under duress. “I had been working towards this dream for 15 years. And while it was good to achieve what I had set out to do, giving my best mattered more, although the medal was good too,” he said.
Speaking further about dealing with pressure, Bindra stated that a lot of people make the mistake of resisting the pressure. “If you embrace and accept it, you can work through it and it will push you to give your best performance,” he said.
And while the sporting environment has certainly changed since the time he won at the games, Bindra acknowledges that there is still a lot of work left to be done. “We are a large country with a lot of other challenges apart from sports. So it’s a process that is still being worked on. I do see headway and progress being made though,” he says, adding that there is a lot of young talent giving good results in the field of shooting today. “Of course there will be ups and downs but we just have to ensure that they will stay on course and on the right path,” he said. As for the upcoming biopic being made on him, Bindra had just this to say: “I’ll go and watch it.”