Giving them hope, the Bindra way
Abhinav Bindra has aged well. Smartly attired in denim and a crisp shirt, the streaks of grey lent an astute look to India's only individual Olympic gold medallist as he walked the dusty corridors of Udayan, a home for children of leprosy patients, on the northern fringes of the city here on Saturday afternoon.
Udayan in Bengali translates to rebirth. And the 29-year-old is seeking just that for his country. "It's my dream that one day sport will be an integral part of life in India," said Bindra, unflinching despite the jostle for sound bytes and requests for one-on-one interviews.
For Bindra, visiting children of lesser gods weaned on appearances by Steve Waugh and who still have fond memories of Tugga is a small step towards realising that dream.
And it was perhaps a poignant moment for the shooter, watching a few hundred of them — united by poverty, abandonment and, for some, the curse of leprosy — looking up to him and singing a song of hope amid an infectious chorus of cheerfulness while the Tricolour fluttered in the background. Bindra gently shied away when requested to sing a few lines from the Olympic theme song Khelo Bharat Khelo that the children had just belted out for him to kick off India's run-up to the extravaganza.
But there is little doubt that Bindra remains the go-to man when it comes to the India's clamour for success in the Olympics. The bombardment of inquiries about his training and whether he is confident of an encore in London continued through the afternoon.
Unfazed, all the man with the golden gun stressed was on living in the present. "The past is history. I'm just trying to do well in the future and not look too much into the future," said Bindra.
"A medal is something you hang on the wall. It's an outcome of a journey, a struggle. But it's very important to focus on the journey because that is what counts. Sport has taught me important lessons," said Bindra.
Not till April would Bindra be able to do a recce of the Royal Artillery Barracks, the venue for shooting at the Olympics. But he seemed in little hurry. On Saturday afternoon at least, Bindra seemed happy trying to instill a way of life at the grassroots.