When it comes to mental strength and self-belief, there is no matching Abhinav Bindra. High fever could not stop the Olympic champion from winning the 10m air rifle gold at the Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar on Friday.
Unwell since Tuesday, Bindra's fever touched a worrying 103 degrees on Thursday. With competition looming, he was forced to take strong medication in order to take part, a gamble that eventually paid off.
Placed third after the qualification round with 597 points, Bindra leapfrogged the two Chinese ahead of him - one of them Zhu, who he beat on way to gold at the Beijing Olympics - with his last two shots in the final.
His total of 104.9, which improves upon his final round score of 104.5 in Beijing, was good enough to make him the first Indian winner of the air rifle event at the Asian Championships.
"Even though I was unwell, my focus was intact, and I'm happy that I won gold," said Bindra from Doha. "The Asian Championships was part of my training schedule for the London Olympics, but now I need to work harder for the Games."
Effort paying off
Dr Amit Bhattacharjee, Bindra's mental trainer who is with the champion in Doha, said, "Due to the medial arch in Abhinav's feet rising by 0.5cm, his centre of gravity had shifted. So, over the last couple of months, we have been working on the bio-mechanics, which has paid us rich dividends."
With this gold, Bindra, who last year won the country a quota place for the London Olympics, has confirmed his ticket in the quadrennial games.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had recently modified its Olympic selection policy. As per the revised norm, only the top-ranked shooters will be part of the Olympic squad, and the Asian Championships is the last event to be considered for ranking purposes.