India's champion shooter Abhinav Bindra turns 34 today. The shine of the Gold medal which he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hasn’t faded from the memory of the Indian fans.
It was Bindra's vision that saw an Indian winning an individual Olympic Gold medal one day, a feat which no one had accomplished before. Eight years and two editions of the Olympics have gone since Bindra's monumental victory at Beijing 2008.
No other athlete has been able to bring home that glittery Gold medal.
In the recent Olympics at the Rio de Janeiro, Punjab-based rifle shooter missed the Bronze medal by a whisker. He finished fourth with 163.8 points, behind Russia's Vladimir Maslennikov who shot 184.2 points to take the bronze medal in the Men’s 10-metre air rifle event.
After representing India in the five editions of the Olympics, Bindra decided to retire last month. In a farewell organised by the National Rifle Association of India, the ace Indian shooter summed up his Olympics experience.
“It is an emotional day for me. I came fourth in Rio and now retiring after playing for two decades. In Rio, I didn't win a medal and stood fourth but it gave me a great closure.”
Bindra made his Olympic debut in 2000 at the tender age of 17 and thus became the youngest Indian to participate in the Summer Games. The 2000 Sydney Olympics marked a great start for the shooting prodigy as he finished 11th and left an impression in the 10-metre air rifle event.
Bindra’s second Olympics – 2004 Athens Olympics witnessed an improved shooting performance from him as he shot a record breaking 597 points in the qualification rounds. However, he finished last in the medal round.
“Athens changed it all for me at age of 21. That was when I was in the best form of my career. I had broken the Olympic record and reached the final in third place. Of all my Olympics, it was my easiest chance to win a medal,” Bindra recalled the heartbreak at the Athens Olympics, in an interview to ‘TOI’.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bindra made history by winning India’s first ever individual Olympic Gold medal. Despite this monumental feat, Bindra admitted that he rates Rio Olympics higher than Beijing Olympics as he had given everything in the process.
“Out of my five Olympics appearances, my absolute favourite is Rio because I gave everything to it in terms of preparation. I gave it all that I had on that day. I prepared to the best of my ability. I had several challenges during my last Olympic journey which I would be updating in my book,” he added.
Bindra was chosen as the flag bearer and had the honor of leading India’s record 117-athlete contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“In the last one month, I thought hard if I could have done anything different in my preparation. But there is nothing I could have done differently other than shoot a better shot in the shoot-off."
"That gives me a lot of satisfaction. That has given me closure to my sports career because I've no regrets. It's a fine feeling,” the shooter concluded.
Here wishing the champion shooter has a great life ahead!
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