Abhinav Bindra pulled off a spectacular last five shots to claw his way into the final eight of the 10m air rifle event at the Rio Olympics. He now shoots for a medal at noon, Rio time.
“I can’t understand what the hype is all about. I won gold eight years ago. I wish you guys and this country would get over it. I have,” that was Abhinav Bindra a few months ago when your correspondent met him. That succinct quote tells about the greatness of this man. It also goes to illustrate why he manages to do what he does with the consistency only he has.
Bindra does not rest on his laurels; rather he is constantly looking to reinvent himself. And that takes work, a whole load of work.
That work showed today in the qualifying. Comfortably in the top-eight bracket after 40 shots, Bindra took a break and sipped an energy drink as he had a quiet word with his long-time coach, Heinz Reinkemeier. His next series of ten shots were the worst he shot on Monday and suddenly he was slipping down to 10th spot overall and just outside the qualifying cut-off of the top-eight.
It’s then that this man’s true class came through. The maximum a shooter can score in a single shot is 10.9. Bindra shot four 10.8s in his last five shots. It was those that ensured he qualified in seventh place with a total score of 625.7.
This is one of the toughest fields in 10m air rifle. The guy who was the defending gold medalist from London, Alin George Moldoveanu finished 19th while India’s bronze medalist from the previous edition, Gagan Narang, was placed 23rd. The current world champion, the 20-year-old Haoran Yang from China finished 31st. It’s not that past success totally jinxed people--the guy topping the table with 630.2 is the silver medalist from London Niccolo Campriani.