He’s disinterested in the outside world, so much so that the Zen master inside Abhinav Bindra fails to fathom the brouhaha that follows a sporting achievement.The world was the same for him, right from the moment he shot a 10.8 in Beijing 2008 to claim gold. He could not understand the “hysteria” as he called it, for he had already moved on from being India’s first individual Olympic gold medallist from the second he stepped down from the podium. It was done. It was about what next – London 2012.He needed ‘my time’, sleep at regular hours, wake up when he wanted to; but the homecoming that followed was not something Bindra expected, though he did feel overwhelmed and touched.Bindra felt like a ‘wanted’ – with everyone gunning for him. He must thank his luck that ‘selfies’ were not introduced in 2008. All hell would have broken lose had it been the case.London came and went. Bindra was out in the qualifiers, but he didn’t feel as bad as Athens. He didn’t have anything to prove in 2012 – to himself, as he felt the need in 2008.Four years from London, the champion from Chandigarh is at the doorstep of his fourth Olympics. He doesn’t need a pizza pole this time to test his endurance, nor the electro-magnetic current that he has laughed off as misunderstood reporting.He must be at peace having decided that it’s going to be his last Olympics.”For fifteen years of my life, I had woken up every morning with the one goal and dream of winning an Olympic gold medal,” he was quoted in the recently released book My Olympic Journey authored by Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose.Those 15 years were before 2008, but he hasn’t stopped expecting excellence from himself, while knowing it won’t be easy with reflexes that will be older by eight years in Rio. “Shooting as a sport is all about perfection. The only way you can achieve success is by eliminating all the variables. Some you foresee and some you just cannot. In a sport like shooting, winning doesn’t come easily. You have to suffer. You can’t go in thinking you will return with a medal. It just doesn’t work that way,” he is quoted in the book.To forsee most of those “variables”, Bindra detaches himself from everything. The difference from 2008 is that he didn’t use to tell when, now he does – through social media.
The precursor to the Olympics – the ISSF World Cup in Baku – didn’t go exactly the way Bindra would have expected, but it did line him up nicely for the Games. He shot an impressive 627.4 to reach the final of the 10m Air Rifle event but couldn’t carry that form in the medal round and finished sixth.
Bindra has flown to Munich to get in shape before heading to Rio with coach Heinz Reinkemeier and physio Digpal Ranawat. As India’s champion shooter terms it himself, he likes to “dig deep” into his reserves to find the trigger moment.”For me, to perform well, there has to be a certain crisis that triggers off an impulse that leads me to dig deep into my reserves,” he says in My Olympic Journey.Carrying India’s flag proudly in Rio 2016, Bindra, one of India’s Goodwill Ambassadors for the Games, will still be thinking of those reserves, but it’s best to leave it to the man who, at present, is the only one in India who knows what it takes to be the sole owner of an Olympic gold.There can’t be a better way to culminate this read with what went through Bindra’s head when he was at the cusp of that historic moment in Beijing.