Newly crowned world shooting champion Abhinav Bindra, who overcame back pain to corner the glory, has been advised a few changes in technique and a six-month rehabilitation programme to avoid a surgery which could leave him out of action for at least a year.
Bindra, the first Indian to win the World Championship gold medal, in 10 m air rifle at Zagreb, Croatia, will have to make a few changes in his technique to reduce the strain on his spine, said Dr Amit Bhattacharjee, who had accompanied Bindra to Zagreb, and is currently among the team of doctors taking care of his rehabilitation programme.
The vibrations caused by shooting and lifting his 5 kg gun during the past few years had resulted in part of the ligament overstretching in the Lumbodorsal vertebrae of the spine, he said.
The Chandigarh-boy's problem could be categorised between "moderate to severe" as part of his "ligaments has been ruptured".
"Now, he is being treated with ice massages, small medication and we have prepared a cast to support his spine, which should help him in overcoming the stress," Bhattacharjee said.
"We are looking at avoiding back surgery at all costs. The surgery means he cannot practice atleast for a year and our priority is to manage his problem with exercises and making some changes in his technique, where the centre of gravity will shift to legs from the spine, which is currently taking the maximum burden," he said.
Bindra said his first priority now to recover and get his body support him fully so that he could further improve on his performance.
The 24-year-old shot 699.7 (597+102.7) in Croatia to win the gold to qualify for his third Olympics, at Beijing.
The qualification score was identical to the one Bindra achieved at the Athens Olympics in 2004 where he could manage only the seventh place.
"I have been in the sport for ten years. It depends how things unfold on that particular day. To predict anything at this moment will be difficult," he said when asked if he was targetting the Olympic gold.
A few years back as a teenager he had firmly set his eyes on winning the gold at Athens and had maintained that it was his ultimate aim.
Asked about the future of the sport in India, he said "shooting has a very bright future. There is a big talent pool and the need is to provide the budding shooters with right foundation".
Bindra admitted that shooting was an expensive sport and had it not been for the support of his family it would have been difficult for him to carry on for long.
"I think more and more sponsors should come forward and support the young talent. The Government can also help and encourage young shooters in a big way," said Bindra.
"Shooting is a global sport. You have 160 nations participating in major tournaments. It is an extremely competitive game and I hope shooting gets its due share over the years to come," he said.