A shooting prodigy: From a promising child to the Olympic & the World Champion
Abhinav Bindra! The name itself weighs a feeling of proud to us Indians, what a masterpiece of athlete he is. Time and again, he has continually proved his gut of what it likely takes to be a perfectionist of aiming the bull’s eye.
Though the India’s flag bearer at Rio Olympics bid a farewell and bought down the curtains to his shooting career, he has made the billion plus citizens of nation proud with his exemplary performance. He deserves a pat on his back for all his endeavours. His journey has been evergreen right from his early age to breaking the shackles of being the first individual gold medallist of India in Beijing Olympics 2008 and the continuity thereafter to being honoured as India’s flag bearer at Rio Olympics, despite of all the ups and downs galore which he faced, never did he let those things hinder his passion for shooting. His remarkable success was inevitable. This ‘Golden boy’ has inspired millions of sportsperson in the country to nurture and work for Olympic Gold.
The veteran shooter hails from Mohali, Punjab and completed his studies from Dun School, Dehradun; St. Stephens School, Chandigarh and Colorado University.From the childhood, Abhinav had a keen interest in Shooting. His perseverance and tenacity made his German coach Heinz Reinkemeier to start coaching the shooting whizz-kid 16 years ago. He started shooting as a professional sports at an early age of 15. He became the youngest Indian athlete who represented India at 2000 Olympic Games.
The polite one:
He is all that takes for a man to be awesome, one instance which proved of how well-bred Bindra was when his coach Reinkemeier shared the small anecdote, “It was still early days for him in Germany and we went out to my favourite Italian because I knew Indians like spicy food. I told the kitchen staff, and they served an Arrabiata that had clearly gone overboard on chilly and spice. The whole kitchen staff peeped out to see his reaction, and he was clearly finding it spicy so much that tears started streaming down his eyes. I calmly asked him, ‘Are we spicy enough?’ He said ‘Not bad’. Incredibly polite.”
A final shot down the memory lane:
Little remains to be said about the ‘golden boy’. Starting at an early age if 15, he participated in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, he soon started climbing the steps of success which began with a breakthrough when he won a Bronze in the 2001 Munich World Cup with a junior world record score of 597/600.
Further winning six gold medals at various international meets in 2001, earned him the most prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratan award.
From the year 2002 till 2006 was what it turned to be a performance par excellence reaching the peaks. He won a gold medal in the pair’s air rifle event at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 at Manchester, also son Silver in the individual event.
Even though he failed to win a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, he eventually clinched a gold by becoming the first Indian shooter to win a world championship gold in Zagreb in 2006.
After all these triumphs, Since 2006 his career at one stage was jeopardised by a nagging back injury, he was down and out for months with a career-threatening spinal injury caused due to ligament over-stretching in the lumbodorsal region. He took up a thorough rehabilitation programme that helped him reduce the strain in his spine and made some technical changes for a better posture. These speculations were bought to a rest, after him winning a gold at the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships thus qualifying to the Beijing Olympics.
He marked his place going down to the history by becoming the first ever Indian to clinch an individual Olympic medal at 2008, Beijing Olympics with a shooting total of 700.5, in which none of his shorts were below 10.0. He was tied with Henry Häkinen, going into the final shot he shot 9.7 and had to settle for the Bronze, while Bindra shot a commendable 10.8. And rest as they say us the history.
His accolades kept flowing on, he won a golf in the men’s 10metre Air Rifle event at the 12th Asian Shooting Championships in Doha Qatar. Followed by a gold again, in the 2014 commonwealth games at Glasgow.
After losing in the qualification round in 2012 London Olympics which disappointed him, he bounced back culminating himself by making a position in the Rio Olympics.
Despite of the tragic incident where he fell from a chair with the gun in his lap, whose ‘sight’ broke and thus the ace Indian shooter has to use a replacement gun just before the game. He tried his best but missed the Bronze just by a whisker he lost the shoot off for bronze medal against 23-year-old Ukranian S Kulish scoring a total of 163.8 and came in 4th. That moment was a heartbreak, though we know he gutted down the sadness within by being all calm and composed.
As he had made it clear long ago that he was done with his shooting career after Rio, without leaving any slightest of the reconsideration of entering the shooting range again. So yes, there is this sadness and we will miss him. He will always remain India’s pride. Adieu Legend.