Abhinav Bindra wants others to avoid anxiety trap

Olympic champions Abhinav Bindra and Niccolo Campriani have come together to prepare three refugee shooters for Tokyo Games.

Abhinav Bindra has reached heights no other Indian has touched alone: the top spot of an Olympic podium.

But for the Beijing 2008 gold medallist, his road to glory was always paved with self-doubt.

Bindra touched upon the subject at the premiere of Taking Refuge: Target Tokyo 2020, an Olympic Channel Original series that captures the journey of three refugees who have their sight set on shooting at the Tokyo Olympics, explaining:

“I competed for a long time in my career and I was always assailed by anxiety. I never had a competition that was easy going."

Now though Bindra is enjoying helping these three refuges avoid the same pitfalls that befell him.

“One of the biggest misconceptions in elite sport is that elite athletes are super-human beings. But the reality of the matter is that they are humans first and athletes after. 

And we are as vulnerable as anybody else and we probably have more triggers for the mental issue than other normal people, because we have fewer outlets.”

It’s about being passionate

While Abhinav Bindra’s bouts with anxiety and mental issues are well documented in his autobiography, ‘A Shot at History’, the former Indian shooter believed that the only way to address the issue was to deal with it appropriately and take an ‘active role and not ignore it’.

“It is a reality that one has to accept, one has to work for it,” he said.

“It's never going to get easier. If competing in the Olympic final was an easy ride or a walk in the park, many more people would be able to achieve greatness. But, the reality is we are human beings and we are as vulnerable as anybody else.”

Admitting that sporting accolades barely defines an athlete’s life, triple Olympic gold medallist Niccolo Campriani hoped that the future generation would find things that they are passionate about and that adds meaning to one’s lives.

“I just don’t agree with the equation that a gold medal equals happiness,” he said.

“You are talking to two of the most successful in our own sport but we do have the right to be unhappy. We won the gold medal and we are supposed to be the happiest people in the world. It’s about meaning, it’s about being passionate about what you do.”

What defines an athlete

It was a sense of void that the former Italian shooter felt after landing his third Olympic gold, at Rio 2016, that drove him to kick-start the project ‘Make A Mark’ through which he’s helping three refugees - Khaoula, Mahdi and Luna - make the cut for Tokyo 2020.

While it’s helped him find his passion, the 32-year-old hoped the sporting community would look beyond the podium.

“I will never forget the sense of void of the day after we won the gold medal,” he shared.

“It’s so important to pass this message to every athlete that there’s not going to be any podium they are going to find the answer.

“It’s really who you are that defines what you do and the number of medals that you are gonna win.”

The five-part series Taking Refuge: Target Tokyo 2020 is now available on the Olympic Channel website.

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