Tokyo Olympics 2020: Abhinav Bindra strongly believes Indian shooters have a 'realistic' shot at winning medals
- Bindra also revealed that he was 'tired' of being the only individual gold medallist from India.
What's the story?
The highly-rated Indian shooting contingent put up a disappointing show at the 2016 Rio Olympics and failed to bag any medals.
Abhinav Bindra is the country's only Individual Olympic gold medalist to date. He won gold in the 10-metre Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The veteran shooter is also a recipient of the International Shooting Sport Federation's (ISSF) highest shooting honour, the Blue Cross, which was conferred to him in November 2018.
There are a host of Indian shooters who have already secured a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The fifteen shooters - namely Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Saurabh Chaudhary, Rahi Sarnobat, Abhishek Verma, Abhishek Verma, Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Deswal, Sanjeev Rajput, Deepak Kumar, Chinki Yadav, Tejaswini Sawant, Aishwarya Singh Tomar, Angad Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan - will be representing India in multiple shooting events.
The heart of the matter
In a candid interview with the Olympic Channel, an enthusiastic Bindra said:
“The depth of talent in our country and the support has increased tremendously. A lot of the athletes are going to be 16, 17-year-olds when they make their Olympic debut and they have a realistic shot at winning medals at the Games, which says something.”
Indian shooters excelled and finished at the top of all Rifle-Pistol World Cups as well as the season-ending World Cup Finals last year. The young shooters were at the forefront of ensuring these victories.
Raining praises for the young shooters, 37-year-old Bindra added:
“At such a young age, to reach an elite level means that they are really, really talented. They have been winning top competitions across the world and each one of them has what it takes (to win in Olympics). So I have my fingers crossed. I do hope they will come back with some gold medals and join me because I am tired of being the only one."
Last month, Abhinav also welcomed all the Tokyo 2020 hopefuls to his Training Performance Centre in Bangalore.
In addition to sharing ideas, the meet was to discuss a project, started by Abhinav in association with his friend and three-time Italian Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani, that aims to train refugee shooters for the Refugee Olympic team.
Two refugee shooters, Khaoula and Mahdi were also present at the meet. Their life has constantly revolved around unthinkable scars, fear, and unfulfilled dreams. Campriani has trained them at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne and the duo have now been training at the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre in Bengaluru.
Speaking about the project, the Beijing Olympics gold medallist added:
“The project is something which is absolutely unique and it transcends sport. That is so in line to what the Olympics are all about. Of course, the Olympics are about winning and it’s about pushing yourself to extreme limits of self-performance. But I think the wider meaning is about unity and it's about competing in a peaceful way and using sport to bring the world together."
"Mahdi and Khaoula have been making great progress. I see more understanding of the sport...they are understanding the various elements of technique in a more effective manner. I think more than anything, more than the performance aspect, I have seen a big change in them as human beings. Sport is helping them define their personalities in a little way and helping them become better human beings... helping them gain more self-confidence and I think that is a great victory in itself."
The current 10m air rifle World Number 1 Apurvi Chandela was also present at the meet.
Gaining advice from someone like Bindra will put the country's shooters in the right frame of mind ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020. Many of the Indian shooters, who are still teenagers, will be making their debut at the global event. Niccolo Campriani is also a shooting legend and his advice is sure to come in handy as well.
It remains to be seen if any of India's shooters can emulate Bindra's Beijing glory but the contingent looks highly promising with many medal hopefuls.
Published 31 Jan 2020, 14:58 IST