On Tuesday, India's only individual Olympic gold turns one. Step into the sprawling farmhouse where Abhinav Bindra lives and you see the special moment frozen in frames — from the first to the last winning shot. The special medal lies in a special frame. Next to it, a golden gun gifted to the champion by Walther vies for attention but nothing quite matches the medal's glitter.
Looking relaxed and exuding the quite confidence of a champion, Bindra shared with HT how the past year was, how it reshaped priorities and what he wants to do in future. And guess what, he'll do on Tuesday? Simple: he'll train.
How was the year after Olympics glory?
The last year was nice; I enjoyed the time and fanfare. Before Beijing, very few recognised me but after the gold, I am getting more attention. After the Beijing triumph, a void had come in my life. Now, I am trying my best to get the motivation to stay in the field.
Do you think that the face of the Indian shooting has changed after your historic achievement?
The awareness about the sport has increased in the last one year. Now, even the common man had start recognising the events. But there has been no major improvement at the grassroots level…we have not able to broadbase the sport.
What was the main driving force behind your Olympic success?
Winning an Olympic gold for me was not because I wanted to become famous or enjoy the life of a celebrity. But I wanted to be best in the world and wanted to prove that I cannot only perform but also win in the world’s greatest sporting arena. For me, it was pure passion for the sport that kept me moving on and on. Moreover, my motive was to give my best and, in that process, I won many accolades.
Your take on the Olympic success?
Sometimes people say that being the son of an industrialist, winning an Olympic medal was easy. But I want to make it clear that I put in countless hours of hard practice to succeed. I had to go through gruelling times and sleepless nights to achieve these heights. I had a number of options. I could have joined my father’s business but it’s pure passion for the sport and to prove to the world that Indians can also do it, that kept me going for 15 years.
Post-Beijing, are you thinking of quitting shooting?
It’s a misconception that I am not practising or have left shooting. I had never left the sport but had taken a little rest. I am regularly training for the past five-six months and following my own schedule. I know when and for which tournament I have to peak. When that time comes, I will increase my practice load. I’ve visited Germany twice for training and even today I have proper training sessions.
I am not someone with short-term plans or myopic vision. If I am doing something, it means I must be having some big plans. I am not into shooting just for the sake of doing it or for relaxation. I am doing it again because I have some plans and want to prove my mettle again.
The NRAI (National Rifle Association of India) wanted you to be part of the national camps, failing which you were threatened that your name would be struck off from the national squad. Don’t you think you should attend camps and trials?
Attending camps would, for sure, disturb my training schedule. I have chalked out my own plans for the future and competing in the trials and other meets would disturb my practice. I want some freedom to chalk out my own plans. Earlier also I proved my worth by following my own schedule, so what’s the hassle now? I am not saying that I would not participate in major competitions. I am only saying I have my own plans. Very soon, I will consult the (national) foreign coach (Stanislav Lapidus) to make alterations in my plans.
In that case how would you be accountable for your performance?
No system in the world can guarantee success. You can only give you best shot. In the past too, my schedule and training programme have given results. I am sure of getting the best out of it this time also. I am not running away from owing up responsibility for my performance. I am ready to be accountable. But one thing
is clear, if I am going to compete in events like the Olympics, I require a conducive environment otherwise I am not
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of your Olympic gold. How are you are going to celebrate?
I will train. For me, life has only been shooting and more shooting.