- He needs no introduction. Abhinav Bindra, the Olympic Gold medalist has redefined shooting in India. His illustrious career as a result of undying passion and commitment. Not many know that he started shooting reluctantly when he was in school. The reluctance turned into a dream very soon!
- At a very young age, Abhinav made his Commonwealth and Olympic debut. However, his first breakthrough came in 2001. He won a bronze medal at the Munich Cup. In the next few years, he achieved one milestone after another.
- In 2002, he won his first CWG medal and in 2006 he conquered the world by winning the World Championship. The biggest moment of Abhinav’s career came in 2008. He brought home the country’s first individual Olympic gold!
- After winning more than 180 international medals, he made the country proud for 22 years. Abhinav retired from professional shooting in 2016. He decided to pass on the baton to youngsters. Now, he is enjoying another chapter of his life by becoming an entrepreneur and guide.
Abhinav Bindra – The Shooting Star of India
- Date of Birth: 28 September 1982
- Place of Birth: Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
- Height: 173 cm
- Weight: 65.5 kg
- Education: BBA and MBA from Colorado University, USA
- Residence: Zirakpur, Punjab, India
- Parents: Apjit Bindra and Babli Bindra
- Event: Rifle Shooting
- Coach: Col. Dhillon, Amit Bhattacharjee, Gabriele Bühlmann
Abhinav was born into an affluent Punjabi family. He studied in Doon for a couple of years before shifting to Chandigarh. He completed his schooling from Stephen’s School and then graduated in 2000. Abhinav’s family has always supported in his career. It is quite surprising that the shooting champion was initially reluctant to try it. However, he soon fell in love with shooting.
His parents, Dr. Apjit Bindra and Babli Bindra, supported his sporting career right from the beginning. They built a shooting range behind their house itself. This enabled Abhinav to practice at odd hours. Moreover, his family had the means to support his ambition. But Abhinav never took anything for granted. Right from the start of his career, he used to train for 10-12 hours every day.
Abhinav’s mental trainer and coach, Amit Bhattacharjee, spoke to The Indian Express about his ward. Here’s what he said, “Abhinav realizes his weaknesses but believes in himself and is ready to take risks. He is someone who pushes the limits and that is what keeps him motivated. Before the Beijing Olympics, he underwent commando training. Though he comes from a well-off family, he has toiled hard to make a mark as a sportsman and has not taken his success for granted.”
The Right Guidance
Lt. Col. Dhillon and Amit Bhattacharjee first noticed how talented Abhinav was. With their guidance in his formative years, he honed his skill immensely. When Abhinav first started shooting his eyesight was -2. Later, it even became -4. After undergoing a corrective surgery, his eyesight became normal.
Gabriele Bühlmann, a Swiss shooter, coached Abhinav in later years of his career. She was with him when he won his Olympic gold medal. Later, Abhinav shares fond memories of that achievement in an interview with The Times of India.
“I realized I had won the gold when I went to my coach and asked her. I obviously knew I had done enough to win a medal but I wasn’t sure if it was the gold medal. And when I went and hugged my coach Gabby, which is when I realized that I had won a gold medal.”
- At the 1998 Commonwealth Games, 15-year old Abhinav Bindra was the youngest participant. However, his first important medal came in 2001 at the Munich World Cup. Abhinav won the bronze by scoring a record score of 597/600.
- In 2000 Olympics, he was once again the youngest participant. Even though Abhinav couldn’t get a podium finish then, the exposure helped him a lot. He continued winning laurels in numerous international meets during this period.
- At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Abhinav opened his medal account. He won the gold in the pair’s event and the silver in the individual event. The 2004 Athens Olympics, however, was another disappointment for him.
- In 2006, Abhinav literally conquered the world by winning the World Championship. He markedly became the first Indian shooter to win a gold medal in the tournament.
- Abhinav couldn’t participate in the 2006 Asian Games due to a back injury. But, his medal-winning streak continued in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He came back with a gold medal in the pairs and a bronze in the singles event.
And He Made History!
Abhinav’s back injury aggravated in the next couple of years. It also hampered his preparations for the Beijing Olympics. He had missed out on his Olympic dream twice and he wasn’t going to miss out on another opportunity. Bindra came out stronger than ever and rest, as they say, is history!
Abhinav’s personal physiotherapist Digpal Singh told the Times of India an interview,
“Abhinav is a person who remained completely honest, committed and dedicated to his goals, so whenever he faced any form of injuries or health challenges he faced them head on through world-class rehabilitation and continuous bio-mechanical corrections throughout his career.”
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav scripted history by bringing India it’s first Individual Gold medal. It was truly a euphoric moment for the entire nation. He achieved this historic feat in the men’s 10m Air Rifle event after shooting a total score of 700.5. The whole country celebrated this win with the champion. He won numerous awards from the government as well as some private organizations.
You made me who I am. Now you inspire a billion others. I am cheering for the sportsmen and women of India to get our next #GoldforIndia#Olympics #TheGoldTurns10 #HappyBirthdayGold #Tokyo2020 #2YearstoGo pic.twitter.com/nvZXa6vilQ
— Abhinav Bindra OLY (@Abhinav_Bindra) August 11, 2018
Unfortunately, Abhinav could not qualify for the next edition of the Olympics. However, he did win the gold in 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, he missed out on a podium finish narrowly.
After a glorious career spanning 22 years, Abhinav retired on the 5 September 2016.
- He joined GoSports Foundation as a Board Member. Also, offers financial assistance to upcoming shooters through his Abhinav Bindra Shooting Development Programme.
- Currently, Abhinav is mentoring rifle shooter, Pushan Jain.
- He was also the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent in the Rio Olympics 2016.
- Abhinav’s mother thinks that he is India’s most eligible bachelor. However, he is not interested in getting married!
- His favorite dish is tandoori chicken.
- Abhinav has 2 pet dogs, Buddy is a Saint Bernard and Chhotu is a Beagle.
- Bindra shared his interesting life story through the book, A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold. The book was published in October 2011.
- He is known to have tried many crazy methods to improve concentration before important tournaments. Some of them include drinking yak milk and bungee jumping!
“I believe in an athlete’s life, winning is important, but, the journey is more meaningful. The constant pursuit toward overcoming one’s own limitations and always challenging the part of you that says you will not or cannot win. I am convinced that everybody has, at some time in their life, faced an equivalent. Something that feels insurmountable. My, perhaps unsolicited, the advice is to enjoy the ride. Let’s face it, roller coasters are far more thrilling than merry go rounds,” Abhinav writes on his website.
This simple yet profound outlook has helped Abhinav succeed in all his endeavors. He never played to add another medal on display, he played for the sport. The entire journey was special to him. He gave his all to the process and the results are visible for everyone. More often than not, we get so consumed with the rewards; we get distracted from the task at hand. Abhinav had all luxuries in life. He could have in fact chosen the easy way and joined his family business. But, he decided to choose the harder, yet much more rewarding way. As we celebrate his golden life, we wish him luck in everything that the future holds for him. With his wonderful outlook in life, he will surely reach great heights in whatever he does.
Awards and Recognition
2000 – Arjuna award
2001 – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
2009 – Padma Bhushan
|2008||Beijing, China||10m Air Rifle||Gold|
ISSF World Shooting Championships
|2006||Zagreb, Croatia||10m Air Rifle||Gold|
|2002||Manchester, United Kingdom||10m Air Rifle (Pairs)||Gold|
|2006||Melbourne, Australia||10m Air Rifle (Pairs)||Gold|
|2010||Delhi, India||10m Air Rifle (Pairs)||Gold|
|2014||Glasgow, Scotland||10m Air Rifle||Gold|
|2002||Manchester, United Kingdom||10m Air Rifle (Pairs)||Silver|
|2010||Delhi, India||10m Air Rifle||Silver|
|2006||Melbourne, Australia||10m Air Rifle (Singles)||Bronze|
|2010||Guangzhou, China||10m Air Rifle (Team)||Silver|
|2014||Incheon, South Korea||10m Air Rifle (Team)||Bronze|
|2014||Incheon, South Korea||Men’s 10m Air Rifle||Bronze|