Remembering Abhinav Bindra's record-breaking Olympic Gold
August 11, 2008: It's a day that means much to Indian sport, the day on which India finally won an individual Olympic gold.
Though many athletes have came close over the years, it had looked like a distant dream until then. In Beijing, when Abhinav Bindra scored 10.8 with his last shot of the men's 10m Air Rifle event, he would go into the record books as the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold. Then only 25 years old, he would hold his nerve in a thrilling finale that went down to the last shot. He shot an overall score of (596+140.5) 700.5
Even though India has not since won another Olympic gold, Bindra's achievement changed the way Indians and Indian athletes looked at sports. The nation's performances have only improved despite not winning a second individual gold.
Abhinav was the youngest in the Indian contingent at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In 2004, he held a world record, and was the favourite to win a medal in Athens. But while he finished third in the qualifying rounds, the final did not go as expected. He finished with 97.6 points, last in a field of eight.
In his biography, he spoke about how the loss in Athens had made him doubt himself, and how he had thoughts of quitting.
Even so, he was already a national hero having won at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, a year after being awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
Never did he know, that four years later he would script the most beautiful chapter in Indian sporting history. Its been 11 years, since that happened, and it is one of those moments that left an indelible mark on Indian History. What followed his achievement was the reaction of a nation with a belief that if he can, many others can too.
With little less than a year left for the next Olympics in Tokyo, all of India's contingent would be hoping to replicate what Abhinav Bindra did in Beijing over a decade ago.