Feature

Stuck at home? Read these books on Indian Olympians during self-isolation

From champion Abhinav Bindra's tale to Mary Kom's story, here are are some of the best Indian books to read on Indian Olympians.

By Andre Pitts ·

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting forcing the world to stay indoors, it may leave some with a lot of time on their hands.

Here, the Olympic Channel looks at some of the best Indian books on the country's Olympic triumphs that could inspire and uplift spirits.

A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold and Beyond

A Shot at History is a story that charts the journey of Abhinav Bindra, India’s first and only individual Olympic gold medallist to date. The book journals Abhinav Bindra’s history-making career that saw him become the first Indian to win a world championship gold besides his Olympic gold. A tale of triumph emerging from heartbreak, it offers insight into how he became a great shooter after a freak occurrence denied him gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Defeat at Athens transformed Abhinav Bindra as a shooter who was hell-bent on redemption following heartbreak in the 2004 Olympics. Authored by Rohit Brijnath and Abhinav Bindra himself, the book also details how he became a scientist who was ever ready for any experiments, including mapping his own brain.

That said, his gold in Beijing through hard work and his obstinate pursuit for excellence as well as his ability to manage success, are the primary themes that strike a chord from A Shot at History. It's one of the best Indian books detailing the journey of an Olympic champion.

Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder

A story of passion, toil and dedication, Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder, tells us the story of the first-ever Indian woman to participate in gymnastics at the Olympics. Winner of the Biography of the Year at the Ekamra Sports Literature Awards in 2019, the book authored by Bishweshwar Nandi, Digvijay Singh Deo and Vimal Mohan provides a vivid account of Dipa Karmakar’s life.

The book documents her journey from lows as a child to competing at the Olympics in Rio 2016, where she landed the fearsome Produnova vault. It also shows how her fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics became a defining moment for the sport in the country.

Her journey from Tripura to the heart of a nation is one of inspiration and determination to battle against all odds. Her struggles saw her receive India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

My Olympic Journey: 50 of India's Leading Sportspersons on the Biggest Test of Their Career

Authored by Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose, this book chronicles the stories of fifty leading Indian Olympians. It brings you a first-person point of view through the lens of some of the best sportspersons that the country has produced. Some of the accounts in this book include that of Sushil Kumar, Leander Paes, Karnam Malleswari, Abhinav Bindra and Balbir Singh. This alone makes it one of the best Indian books on sports.

Pioneers of Indian sport like Milkha Singh, PT Usha and Anjali Bhagwat also reveal their hopes, superstitions and challenges in the pages. While some of these stories are certain to invoke a hearty laugh, others could see you shed a tear by opening your eyes to the struggles that a few of these athletes had to overcome.

Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympic Games

With the Tokyo Olympics now just around the corner, Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta put together a collection of India’s finest moments at the Olympic Games over the years. Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympic Games features the stories of legends like MC Mary Kom, PV Sindhu and Abhinav Bindra.

The book also asks pertinent questions like how does a country of a billion and more have so few achievements to show for itself at the Olympics.

Besides a quick recap of India’s past at the Games, it also offers a realistic insider’s view of what goes on behind the scenes in the Indian Olympics world and assesses India’s preparation for Tokyo 2020. It's one of the best Indian books centred around the Games.

Unbreakable

The story of the legendary MC Mary Kom, Unbreakable gives readers an idea about the journey that the six-time world champion has undertaken. Born to a family of limited means, this book tells us about the struggle and passion that Mary Kom possessed to make it to the pinnacle of the sport.

From her tough childhood and navigating through the politics that come with Indian boxing, this book has it all. Marriage, winning the world championship and, of course, what it takes to make it as a woman in what many – incorrectly – deem as a man’s sport, are just a few interesting topics in this first-hand account of her journey that’s authored by Mary Kom.

Whatever hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh reads

Known as the prankster in the Indian men’s hockey team, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is more often than not the life of the dressing room. When away from the sport, though, the man from Kerala seems to be coping better than most in self-isolation.

“Since we have a lot of time these days and nowhere to go, many of us on the team have started playing volleyball at the SAI centre that we're at. I've also picked up reading as a new habit now,” he told ESPN India.