Abhinav Bindra has never been one for dramatic announcements. But in recent times , Abhinav Bindra has developed a habit of announcing his retirement from a multi sports event and going on to win a medal the next day. Today Abhinav Bindra somehow won the bronze in his 10 metre rifle event in the Asian Games in a thrilling final after announcing his retirement on twitter yesterday.
One in a Billion Guy
Abhinav Bindra is known in the whole country as the “One in a billion guy” – the only Indian to have won the Olympic Gold medal in the individual category. The event took place in the 2008 Beijing Games in 10m Air Rifle but the memory is still very fresh for the manner in which Indian pride was redeemed. Thanks to the longevity of Abhinav, even six years later, he is still considered India’s hope at every game he participates in.
Born on 28 September 1982 in Dehradun, he is often cited as Punjab’s pride due to his Punjabi descent. Abhinav did his schooling in Dehradun and Chandigarh. He has repeatedly said that his parents have always supported him and his dream of becoming a professional in shooting. Abhinav had all the facilities he needed but had to work very hard from an early age to achieve his dreams.
Beginning at the International Level
When he started making his way to the international arena, India was busy watching cricket and other sports were rarely watched. He participated in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur at the age of 15 and became its youngest participant. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he scored 590/600 to finish 11th and could not make the cut for the finals. But a breakthrough was just around the corner; and it came in the 2001 Munich World Cup where he won a Bronze medal, also setting a new junior world record score of 597/600. He was honored with the Arjuna Award in 2000 at the young age of 18 years.
An Award Winning Shooter
In 2001, Abhinav won six gold medals in various international tournaments and was bestowed the esteemed Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. This was preceded by the Arjuna Award in the previous year. In an interview he gave in June 2001, Abhinav spoke of his desire to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games. Abhinav was also candid enough even at that early stage to ask the government to provide him a coach of international standing. “You cannot hope to do well in the international arena without a good coach. You don’t win medals in the Olympics by sheer accident. You (have) got to work hard along with the coach to achieve something in life”, he added.
Olympic Disappointment in 2004
Abhinav backed his words with action by winning a gold medal in the Pairs event and a silver in the individual category in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Manchester. The 2004 Olympic Games of Athens saw Bindra making it to the top eight, but then he fell from the third to seventh spot in the final, thus failing to make his dream come true.A faulty flooring at the Athens Games probably contributed to the loss.
After a lot of soul searching, Abhinav bounced back in 2006 and clinched the gold in the World Championships in Zageb, Croatia in the individual category thereby becoming the first Indian to do so. He won the gold medal again in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games in the Pairs category, and also bagged a Bronze in the Singles event there. Abhinav had to miss the 2006 Asian Games due to a prolonged, severe back injury which also forced him to take a break for a year. He was however in peak fitness for the 2008 Olympics , having undergone commando training.
The Greatest Feat
On 11th August, Abhinav gave India one of its most glorious achievements in Olympic Sports by clinching the Gold medal. He scored 596 and got the fourth position in the qualifying round but eventually surpassed others’ scores with 104.5 in the finals. Apart from becoming the only sportsperson winning an individual gold, he also gave India a Gold in the Olympics after 28 years.
The Emptiness of Winning It All
Following his historic accomplishment, Abhinav said that he had worked for over a decade to win the Olympic Gold but when he finally did, he was afraid he would lose motivation. “After winning the gold, the biggest fear for me has been not to go down the road of guys who have earlier won medals and struggled to keep the intensity and spirit up”, he had added.
It took Abhinav Bindra a year to move forward after climbing an Olmypic peak but by the 2010 Commonwealth Games a much more relaxed Abhinav Bindra was back in medal contention
Flag Bearer in CWG 2010
Abhinav has continued to be the inspiration for millions of Indians; and hundreds of kids have started pursuing shooting because of his incredible accomplishment. He was adorned with the Padma Bhushan in 2009 for his extraordinary achievements. He also received the honor of being the flag-bearer for the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where he also won the gold medal in the Pairs category with Gagan Narang, giving India its first gold in the extravaganza. He followed Narang with a silver medal in the individual event.
A Miss In the London Olympics
In the 2012 London Olympics, he could not get past the qualification round and finished at the 16th spot with a score of 594.
A Return To Form in the Commonwealth Games
In 2014, Abhinav won the gold medal in the recently concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games where India also gave a terrific performance. In a deviation from his normal scripts, Abhinav announced that this was his last appearance in the Games on twitter a day before the event.
Fortunately, with his last match in Glasgow, he also won his first individual Commonwealth gold medal. He bid adieu to the event after setting a new Final Record Score of 205.3. He defeated Bangladesh’s Abdullah Baki to clinch the gold. After his match, he said, “Five CWG and nine medals, it is enough for me. It was a well-earned medal because I work hard and am happy to have achieved the feat. I got the desired result”.
India owes a debt of gratitude to Abhinav Bindra for getting us an Individual Olympic Gold. As Abhinav Bindra contemplates one final shot at Rio before he retires , Sports Rediscovered wishes him the Best !