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Human face of a champion

Abhinav Bindra, judging by what one has seen of him, is a loner who hates public glare and shuns the limelight. He is not your quintessential middle-class hero, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2008 01:03 IST

Abhinav Bindra, judging by what one has seen of him, is a loner who hates public glare and shuns the limelight. He is not your quintessential middle-class hero. He does not fit into our image of a winner, who should all the time be proclaiming his indebtedness to the country he was born in and say this gold medal is a payback.

To be a world champion and be understated at the same time is something of an anathema for all those who have been moulded by the television era, where the louder you proclaim your achievements the better it is.

When Bindra pierced bullseye and won gold, he should’ve screamed, shouted, and cried. He should have draped the Tricolour around his body and said how great his Motherland is. He did not do that. Instead, he chose to speak in calm, measured tones, though none of us really know what was going through his mind.

Those who know him say he has always been like this. His reserve is not a sign of arrogance. He opens up only with his friends and likes to keep his own company.

He is also a man who owes little to anyone else, apart from his family. He reached a summit in spite of the system and not because of it. He has spoken sparingly and whatever little he has said has been more meaningful than thousands of words.

It is not often that a 25-year-old’s greatest sporting achievement also becomes a country’s greatest sporting feat. But his immediate reaction was putting his own win in a proper perspective and telling India that “we should put our Olympic programme in order and unless we win not just one but 40 medals, we will never become a sporting nation.”

We are all destiny’s children, or so the Sikh from Punjab believes. As he put it: “It was my day today,” like it has been someone else’s day on other occasions when he has not been able to win despite having shot well.

He is a man who has gone through many peaks and troughs and had reached a stage where a back problem had almost ended his career. Even on his greatest day, he obviously remembered his past, his failures, and by reacting with rare calm and dignity he has given a human face to an Indian world champion.

For the last 12 years he says he has done nothing but shoot and dream of winning at the Olympic. It is said that the journey itself is greater fun than reaching the destination. After fulfilling his dream, he says he was engulfed by a feeling of emptiness.

This is a human trait. Bindra has shown us a world which we know exists but don’t want to acknowledge.