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Mr Cool: Why Bindra is his own man

Even in his moment of celebration, the 24-year-old seemed totally in control, writes Ajai Masand. Critics unfair?
None | By Ajai Masand, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 26, 2006 03:44 AM IST

Abhinav Bindra has never evoked a sense of informality - a feeling accentuated by the fact that he rarely interacts with anyone outside his close circle of friends, mostly shooters.

At the shooting ranges, too, there is something very ‘cold’ about him, which always comes across as some sort of barrier - a big put-off - leaving one in two minds as to whether to approach him or not.

On the face of it, it seems that the Chandigarh rifle marksman simply does not want anyone in his world.

The very affluent background and the advantage of an indoor range in his backyard was obviously going to make him an object of envy, while his undoubted influence only contributed to the touch-me-not image.

While no one would openly ask why he used to skip national camps, there were always murmurs in the corridors that he was getting preferential treatment from the National Rifle Association of India.

On Monday, the taciturn 24-year-old double gold-medallist (team) at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games did what the country had been waiting for all these years - he clinched the biggest medal ever won in Indian shooting history at the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.

But, Bindra doesn’t seem to have changed. Speaking from Zagreb, that veneer of aloofness even in his moment of celebration, came through quite easily.

Neither the excitement or joy (if he felt it) came through. What did was the man’s control. But perhaps that control is intrinsic to him and it is what makes him keep his head.

He did say he was thrilled but that was it. "I shot well and won the medal," was his matter-of-fact reply. Asked how close the competition was, he said, "Let me get out of my shooting attire and check out the scores, it's just too hot here. I also have to rush to the dope control centre."

On how he felt about surpassing the silver-medal winning performance of the legendary Maharaja Karni Singh (at the World Championships at Cairo in 1962), he said "okay".

Possibly, he was far too drained to react to anything. But if you go by the form-book, he is more probably, just like that. Well, champions have their traits. And Bindra has the right to his domain.

After all, he is now the world champion and India will probably make peace with his peculiarities, because it is proud of his shooting.

For Bindra, who was touted as a prodigy, although critics always tried to run him down for his attitude, calling him too self-centred, this is also time for them to eat their words. Whether he says anything or not.

For finally, there can be no debate. This time, the Chandigarh man’s achievement is unmatched!

Bindra’s achievements

DoB: Sept 28, 1982

Current World Ranking: 26

Personal Best Score: 600/600 at Colorado Springs, US (2003)

Asian Shooting, Malaysia: Score - 593; Rank - Bronze

World Cup, Munich 2003: Score - 699.9; Rank - Bronze

Olympics, Sydney 2000: Score - 590; Rank - 11th

European Circuit, 2001: 12 medals

Olympics, Athens 2004: Score - 694.6; Rank - 7th

Commonwealth Games, 2006: Two team gold

World Championships, Zagreb, 2006: Score - 699.1; Rank - Gold

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