In his autobiography, 'A Shot at History', Olympics gold winner Abhinav Bindra mentions his mental conditioning coach Amit Bhattacharjee as a key aide in his gruelling and eventually successful quest at the Beijing games in 2008. The 47-year-old PGI research officer is now packing his bags for London, all set to accompany Bindra for their fourth straight Olympics.
In his book, Bindra mentions that when he was in school, Bhattacharjee used to tutor him in science as a part-time job besides preparing for civil services exams. But what could be termed the civil services' loss has become 'Goldfinger' Bindra's gain, as Bhattacharjee has stayed on for over a decade, counted by Bindra amongst his closest, and most important, companions.
"Like now, Abhinav was very focussed then. He was good at shooting as well as academics. All I did was to balance his interests," says Bhattacharjee, who is employed as a research officer at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) in Chandigarh.
As Abhinav grew up, Bhattacharjee meanwhile acquired a doctorate in sports psychology and management, to add to a master's degree in health sciences and clinical hypnosis. Speaking of his role, Bhattacharjee says, "Just like the Beijing Olympics in 2008, this time too we have certain plans. My job will be to assist Abhinav by using biomechanics."
Bhattacharjee will be accompanying the Indian shooting contingent as an official. He thanks the ministries of sports and health, as well as the Indian Council of Medical Research, for supporting him.
"I want to express my gratitude particularly to PGI director Dr YK Chawla. Being a great sports lover, he has always been a supporting figure." He also thanked his institute for giving him special leave to train Bindra.
Besides working with Bindra, Bhattacharjee has also lent his services to the East Bengal football club, Indian team goalkeeper Subrata Pal, and chess player Sayantan Das, who won the 2008 World Youth Chess Championship.