When I stood on the podium on that historic day in Moscow when India won an Olympic gold medal, I had 16 of my colleagues beside me.
Today, Abhinav Bindra stood on the top rung of the podium alone and that’s what makes his achievement greater. He was a deserving winner and his historic medal has made every Indian proud. He has crossed a great barrier that no one else has able to do so, despite coming close.
I had tears in my eyes when I climbed on to the podium as the captain of the Indian hockey team. Today, I had tears in my eyes again as I saw on television, Abhinav Bindra receiving the gold medal and the Tricolour being raised during the presentation ceremony.
His gold medal is the greatest achievement by any Indian sportsperson and I believe it has opened the eyes of many who thought that there was no sport in India worth promoting apart from cricket.
The fact that Bindra’s medal has come so early – it’s only the third day of Olympic competitions — will spur other Indian sportspersons in Beijing to perform better and try and add more medals to the tally.
To me, it is a very inspiring moment as my team was the last to win an Olympic medal and now that is off my back. There is someone who has won an Olympic medal in an individual competition.
I had watched Bindra closely during the Afro-Asian Games a few years ago and in some other competitions too. What I noticed is that he is so calm and composed and there was no trace of pressure on his face. Even today, he was calm and to hit 10.8 on the final shot showed how focussed he was. He won the medal only because of his mental toughness.
(As told to B Shrikant)