“Abhinav did it, he again proved to the world that he is the best.”
These were the first words Dr A.S. Bindra uttered when Hindustan Times gave him a congratulatory call just after his son won the country’s first-ever individual Olympic gold.
After that, however, the proud father groped for words. He found it hard to express himself. Barely an hour after Abhinav’s epoch-making achievement, Dr Bindra’s plush house on the Patiala-Zirakpur road was thronged by the print and electronic media.
On cloud nine now, Dr Bindra had the same thing to say to them — “My son proved that Indians are no less capable than anybody in the world.”
The virtually non-stop interviews and photo sessions exhausted Dr Bindra. He had to take several breaks to catch his breath.
“I was waiting for this day when my son would make me proud. Today, you all are here to interview me only because of his efforts,” he said.
“I couldn’t sleep well all night because I kept thinking about his event. I got up at 4 in the morning. God knows how I passed the time. When I got the news that he had made it to the final, the excitement grew. Watching the final live was an experience no Indian can forget.”
If Dr Bindra was busy obliging the media, Abhinav’s mother Babli Bindra was instructing her staff to distribute sweets to everyone.
“I spoke to Abhinav yesterday,” she said. “He was confident of coming up with his best shot in the final. I am the happiest mother on earth today.”
Relatives and family friends streamed into the house all day. People danced to dhol beats. “During the Sydney and Athens Olympics, we were confident that he would win a medal. This time we were not too sure. He not only won a medal, he struck gold,” said Ranjit Bajaj, Abhinav’s friend.
Dr Bindra summed it by saying, “Akshay Kumar is just an actor who played the lead role in Singh is Kinng. My son is the real-life king.”
He overcame pain to shine
Abhinav Bindra was a man with the mission on Monday. But it wasn’t the case a couple of years ago when he was battling a career-threatening back problem which forced him to miss the quadrennial showpiece event of Asia — the Asian Games in Doha. He spent sleepless nights fighting the demons in his mind, worked with determination and finally conquered his ailment. It was during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games when he was first struck by the debilitating pain, but he didn’t complain and went on to finish 7th.
“It was in 2004 that the symptoms of ‘overloading’ (of the back) started showing. The injury got aggravated in Athens,” said Dr Amit Bhattacharjje, Abhinav’s mental trainer and physiotherapist, from Beijing.
Braving the crippling pain, he stood firm at the 2006 World Championships in Zagreb (Croatia), creating history by winning the first ever gold for the country in the quadrennial event.
The pain, probably, is history.