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Quirky tale of an Olympic champion

other Updated: Oct 17, 2011 10:32 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Yak milk from China to enhance concentration, electrodes to map the brainwaves and getting rid of love handles — these are some of the quirks that went into the making of Abhinav Bindra the Olympic champ.

“We have to be a little insane to do this, a trifle obsessive, almost as single-minded as shaven monks who sit for years meditating under trees in search of distant nirvana,” writes Abhinav Bindra in his autobiography, ‘A Shot At History’, to be released on October 27.

“I once got yak milk from China because I was told it enhances concentration. It didn’t. I attached electrodes to my head to view the activity in my brain when I shot well. I lasered off my love handles. Let’s be clear: We’re not you. We’re not better than you, or other athletes, just caught in lives mostly weirder than most,” writes Bindra.

August 11, 2008, was judgement day for Bindra and the day that would never be forgotten in the Indian sports history — India got its first individual Olympic gold.

On the eve of judgement day, “endless things were making the rounds” in Bindra’s mind. He was suddenly seized by the enormity of what confronted him. “The mission, whose worth would be evaluated tomorrow…butterflies tango in the stomach.

“The answer was a McDonalds meal and a long walk. I am too wired to sleep, but then I have already practiced going without sleep. I stand in my balcony at 3 am and look out into the dark nothingness, another athlete swallowing his fear in this dormitory of the strange and the gifted.”

But fear was not all he swallowed on that night. “I felt the pressure of the Olympics, as if a nervous breakdown was imminent, and I carried it (a miniature bottle of Jack Daniels) with me. Now, on this sleepless night, I retrieve it from my toilet kit, I twist it open, empty it into my nervous stomach. As if it is an antidote to everything that assails me,” recalls Bindra.

The shooter slept for an hour and was fine, all set to take on the world.