Know your Indian Olympian: Abhinav Bindra
What are Abhinav Bindra's chances at Rio?
If one had to list out the 10 best achievements, both individual and team, in the history of Indian sport, what would your initial inclusions be? The Indian Cricket Team winning the 1983 World Cup? The Indian Hockey team winning 11 medals at the Olympics? Leander Paes winning India's first Olympic medal after a gap of 44 years at Atlanta in 1996?
But the option that may not hit you straight away is that of a bespectacled, geeky looking man, who created history in Beijing in 2008, with few expecting, him to reach the pinnacle of any sport: Winning the Olympic Gold.
A 25-year-old Abhinav Bindra entered the 10m Air Rifle event on August 11th 2008, like any other shooter that day-Looking to give his best and stand on the podium at the end of it.
But little did he know that in the next 90 mins, he was going to stamp his name in the history books and create a benchmark for many upcoming sportspersons.
Bindra fired his way to the elusive Gold defeating a fine group of competitors, with a final score of 104.5, after a qualifying score of 596 that put him in 4th place and along with providing a proud moment for India, he also put the demons of Athens 2004, where he finished a demoralising 7th, to sleep, once-and-for-all.
Everybody present at Beijing that day, who had tracked Bindra's career closely, who had seen him win medal-after-medal in several age group competitions, Commonwealth Games, Nationals etc would say that it was a well-deserved medal.
Four years is a long time and to remain passionate about your goals and to have that single-minded desire to be nothing but the best requires oceans of discipline, practice and above all, self-motivation.
Bindra had all that and became the 1st Indian since the Vasudevan Bhaskaran-led Indian Hockey team to win a Gold at the Summer Games.
He also became the 1st Indian to hold both a World Championships Gold, which he won two years earlier in Zagreb and an Olympic Gold in the same cycle. He still remains the only Indian to achieve the feat.
Surprisingly, in his excellent autobiography, A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to the Olympic Gold, the shooter writes that winning the former in Zagreb in 2006 was a bit more satisfying experience than the Gold in the latter in 2008.
But Beijing now is 7 years old and Bindra is nearing the last stretch of his career, that has lasted close to two decades.
He is still winning Golds, competing hard but perhaps isn't as obsessed as he was for the main prize in Beijing. But the passion is certainly intact and there is no doubting that he will up and ready for Rio in 7 months time.
Lack of a young turk a concern?
A total of 8 shooters has made the cut for Rio so far, out of which three will compete in the 10m Air Rifle event. 23-year-old Apurvi Chandela will carry the Indian hopes in the Women's 10m Air Rifle event while Bindra and contemporary Gagan Narang will lead the country's charge in the Men's charge.
This could disappoint Bindra a bit that the fact unlike the Women's category, India would not have a young turk looking to impress the world in the Men's Rifle event.
The shooter had earlier said that he will probably be shooting for fun at Rio, but there is no such thing such as fun in sport and one can certainly expect him to pump up his tyres and give it one final go in the August of 2015.