For many a current star of Indian shooting, Abhinav Bindra has been a childhood hero ever since his gold at the Beijing 2008Olympics.
While many of them were too young to represent the Indian shooting team at the same time as the legend, Apurvi Chandela was one of the fortunate ones to have that experience.
And it undoubtedly counted among the Indian shooter’s favourite moments.
“I feel so lucky to have played at the Olympics (Rio 2016) with him – it was my Games debut and his final one,” Apurvi Chandela said on the Instagram Live show, CollaboNation, hosted by Manavaditya Rathore, son of Athens 2004 silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Apurvi Chandela was also a part of the Indian shooting contingent at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with Abhinav Bindra, where they both won individual gold in the individual 10m air rifle events.
“It was my first major medal and he had just won his gold the day before,” she recounted.
“These are two of the most special moments in my life.”
Though Apurvi Chandela had grown up idolizing the 2008 Olympic gold-medallist, she was too shy to approach him when she first spotted him at an international tournament.
“I was so nervous when I saw Abhinav Bindra and all I could do was excitedly point him out to my parents,” she laughed.
“They literally had to drag me to meet with him because they knew I was an introvert and would not go up to him myself.
“It was an amazing experience to speak to him then.”
Her parents, who had encouraged her to take up some sort of sport growing up, would also play a very crucial role in getting her spirits back up after her outing at the Rio Olympics.
Bouncing back from Rio
Apurvi Chandela had made it to the Indian shooting team for Rio 2016 and had finished 34th in the women’s 10m air rifle, a result that did not sit too well with the then 23-year-old.
She had seen her performance dropping in the months leading up to the Games due to an injury she was nursing and after Rio, Apurvi Chandela admitted that she was downcast.
“I was already a quiet person and I became even quieter. I was heartbroken at not doing well at the Olympics and preferred being alone, thinking about the things that had gone wrong,” she explained.
It was a bad space to be in mentally and this was when her mother stepped in. “She stuck by me and made sure she talked to me and got things out,” the 27-year-old said.
“That process of talking and expressing your feelings is very important, especially at a time like that.”