“We’ll not be regarded as a sporting nation because of cricket,” Abhinav Bindra told Hindustan Times at his first official party in Beijing after becoming the only Indian to win an individual Olympic gold on Monday.
“[Cricket] is played only in 10 countries. We need a solid Olympic programme,” said Bindra, himself a cricket fan who will cheer if India win a cricket World Cup.
Bindra cut a hastily-ordered rifle-shaped chocolate cake to the sound of Chak De! India at the Indian embassy. Is he, as his mother Babli said, the country’s most eligible bachelor? Bindra joked with a broad smile: “I’m not talking to my mother!”
He now wants a break. “I’m very exhausted. I need some time, space and quiet to settle in,” said Bindra, chatting over samosas and pakoras as wide-eyed children jostled for photographs. “My parents are more excited than I am… I’m ready to move on.”
Did he think he could win? “I had believed I could do it,” said the 25-year-old who admits he ate a McDonald’s meal before his big event. “But when I won the medal my only thought was, ‘Why couldn’t we have done this before?’
Bindra said he does not read everything written about him, or the reams devoted to his ‘comatose’ persona. “Looks are deceptive… there is a whole different world going on inside.”
“I’m just happy to have brought joy to everybody… it was my day,” he said.
It was little Gandharva Joshi’s (11) day too. After a photograph with his hero, Joshi beamed: “I liked cricket and football. Now I like shooting too.”