When the determined Abhinav Bindra shot for the gold medal in 10 metres event at the Beijing Olympics, it warmed the cockles of a Billion Indians as their long-time dreams were fulfilled. Because, till then India had secured gold only in hockey, a team sport long time ago. Bindra will be focussed to do the unthinkable — to repeat the gold-winning act at London too! If his dreams come true, it will be for the first time an individual Indian to win two golds at Olympics. The stakes are high but it should be not impossible for this steely shooter to prove his detractors wrong.
All eyes will be on the 29-year-old Bindra at London Games. This will be his fourth Olympics after having been the youngest Indian participant at the 2000 Sydney Games. The pressure will be on Bindra as he is the defending champion. He faces stiff competition from his fellow Indian Gagan Narang, who is hot on his trail. The ‘rivalry’ between Bindra and Narang is one of the features of the Indian shooting history. National coach Sunny Thomas believes that Bindra and Narang have raised the bar. “They have been super stars in their own right. Their performances in Olympics, World, Commonwealth and Asian Games is a testimony to their stature as world class shooters. This Olympics could see another classic contest between these shooters,” said Thomas.
So to say, Bindra is on a comeback trail. He was out of shooting for two years after the Beijing Games, partly because of his ‘running battling’ with the National Association of Rifle Association (NRAI). When he came out of the self-imposed exile to participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Asian Games, Bindra had to play second fiddle to Narang, particularly at the Delhi CWG meet where the Hyderabadi shooter clinched four gold medals. But Shimon Sharif, a former national shooter, says that Bindra was never in full flight at CWG meet in Delhi. “Remember, it was Gagan’s show at Delhi. Having missed the gold at Beijing Olympics, Gagan struck with vengeance. But London will be different. A rejuvenated Bindra could come up with a powerful performance,” said Sharif.
Sharif said Bindra is a scientific shooter. “He is very articulate with his preparations. He has already gone to London and will ensure that he is all set for the Games. Remember last time when he was quietly preparing for the Beijing Games, he imported the ammunition and trained in Germany. There was allegation of Bindra’s gun being tampered. That did not distract him away from his mission and in the end he made history with the gold-winning show. That is Abhinav Bindra for you,” added Sharif.
Bindra has been on target in most of the meets he has participated. “He is shooting 595 consistently of late,” said Sharif. Working with coaches, Gaby Buhlmann and Heinz Reinkemeier, Bindra has the ability to rise in big meets. “We can see Bindra in full cry during the London Olympics. The duel between Gagan and Bindra will be a fascinating one,” said Sharif.