When five-time Olympian Abhinav Bindra created history by becoming the first individual to win gold at the Olympics for India, the final result was one of the last things on his mind.
Gold medal winner at the 10m Air Rifle event in Beijing 2008, Bindra recently explained how much he always relished the experience of competing irrespective of the outcome.
“It was a great experience whether I succeeded in the competition or failed. It was about trying to constantly learn and get better each day,” Abhinav Bindra said on a show called The Medal of Glory on the Facebook page of Sony Sports.
“Trying to push ourselves to be a better athlete because success at the Olympics doesn’t come easily. It’s a result of all the work you have done in the previous four years.
“So, it’s about continuous hard work and consistently pushing yourself on a daily basis to be the best version of yourself,” he said.
Abhinav Bindra had already competed in two Olympics prior to his Beijing success and while it’s nice to have the distinction of being the country’s sole individual gold medal winner, it’s the memories of competing in all five Games that he cherishes the most.
Beijing gold an outcome of years of competition
“The gold medal is great, there’s no question about it but the gold was an outcome and what remains after is competing all those years. The medal remains a piece on the wall,” he explained.
“But when I look back, I think about what I learned, my journey and the relationships that I made along the way while travelling the world. That to me is the most important thing and those memories will never fade,” he added.
Apart from ‘being detached from the outcome’ during his historic gold conquest in Beijing, the 37-year-old emphasized the need for being ‘process-oriented’.
That said, Abhinav Bindra was quick to dispel the notion that he was not affected by the pressure in the heat of competition.
“There’s nobody in the world that won’t crack under pressure. I am a human being, I am flawed and it’s a truth I live with... Competing was always very difficult for me,” he insisted.
More individual golds for India in the future
Twelve years on from Beijing 2008, Abhinav Bindra still remains the only individual gold medallist from India. However, the legendary shooter feels that India has the potential to do better.
“It is a matter of time before we win more individual gold medals at the Olympics. Lot of young people are doing well in different sports and I think it’s just a matter of time before we get more golds,” he predicted.
“I think what I like to see in our country is that more people are playing sport just for the enjoyment of it. It benefits society, the general health and gives everyone the joy of playing sport. When that starts happening, we will have more people in elite sport,” he hoped.
As many as 15 shooters have secured a quota place for the Beijing Games in their respective category in what’s shaping to be a strong Indian contingent.