It takes a lot to be a professional athlete. Even after years of training, determination, commitment, and discipline, only a few make the cut and represent our country. Out of those few athletes, only a handful of them conquer the world and achieve what every sports-person desires. One of them is, Abhinav Bindra.
In a country like India where cricket (and cricketers) mean the world, other sports and sports personalities are often overlooked. As a result, other players hardly get the spotlight they deserve. Even players like Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom started getting recognition after years and years of consistent performance. Today, we are going to be talking about one such exceptional sports personality who earned his fame during the 2008 Beijing Olympics – Abhinav Bindra.
Abhinav Bindra is the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic games. He won the medal in the 10 metre Air Rifle event. In this blog, we are going to chalk out his professional and personal life to dive deep into exciting and inspiring stories of the ‘Golden Man’.
Born on 28th September 1982, Abhinav Bindra became the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games at the age of 15. But like most other athletes, Abhinav also had to overcome many hurdles. He had -2 power in both his eyes when he took up shooting and it later went up to -4. For which he underwent corrective surgery. Abhinav suffered a spinal injury during the Asian Games in 2006. He also had to leave the competition due to the severe damage. But none of this could stop him from becoming what he is today.
Bindra tasted his first major success in 2001 when he won a bronze in Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score of 597/600. Bindra also won a total of 6 Gold Medals at several international meets in 2001 itself. He was also the youngest Indian participant at the 2000 Olympic Games. Bindra broke an Olympic record at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games when he scored 597/600 in the qualification round. However, he finished at #7 in the final round.
Not many people know this, but Abhinav Bindra is the first and only Indian to have held both, the World and Olympic titles at the same time. Yes, before winning the Olympic Gold at the 2008 Beijing, Bindra grabbed a Gold at the World Championship on 24th July 2006 in Zagreb, Croatia. He also won another gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He went on to win another Gold in the 2010 Commonwealth games in the 10 metre air rifle pair’s event along with Gagan Narang. The champion also clinched a silver in the singles event only losing to Narang. His winning streak continued in the 12th Asian Shooting Championship in Qatar. Followed by the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, winning Gold in both the events.
His last outing was at the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro where he came 4th in the 10m air rifle singles event. At the time, he was battling with epilepsy. However, in an interview with Forbes, he said, ‘I finished 4th not because of trembling hands or epilepsy; I finished 4th because I was not good enough for 3rd’.
Major Awards and Accolades won by Bindra
Abhinav Bindra is a recipient of major awards like he won the Arjuna Award in 2000, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sports award, in 2001, Padma Bhushan in 2009, and Blue Cross, highest shooting honor by ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation), in 2018 amongst many others. Bindra was also awarded more than ₹33mn for his gold medal in Olympics by private companies, Central government, and several state governments collectively.
Bindra as a Businessman & what he is doing now
Bindra penned down his autobiography, A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold, which he co-authored with the sportswriter, Rohit Brijnath in October 2011. The book was formally released by Union Sports Minister, Ajay Maken on 27th October 2011 at an event in New Delhi.
As a businessman, he has also set-up the ‘Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance’ centre in Mohali, Delhi, Pune, Bhubaneshwar and Bangaluru. All the centres are open for both, athletes and non-athletes and have state-of-the-art machines. These are used by expert physiotherapists and doctors to provide data-driven assessment and training/rehabilitation. Four of these centres are commercial while the Bengaluru one is run by his foundation and provides free access to athletes.
In 2016, Abhinav Bindra’s venture fund ‘Shooting Star’ along with Franchise India Brands invested $1 million in FITPASS. The Delhi-based provider gives access to gyms and fitness studios across multiple locations for a monthly fee.
Bindra is also the CEO of ‘Abhinav Futuristics’, which provides products and services in sports, health, fitness, and rehab.
Harshvardhan Kapoor and Anil Kapoor will be working together for the first time in the Abhinav Bindra’s biopic. The former will be portraying the sportsman while the latter will play Apjit Bindra (Abhinav’s father). The film was announced a while ago but the makers are yet to set the release date.
In an interview with ESPN, Bindra said, “I’m a bit nervous as the idea itself is daunting, but anything to take shooting to a far and wide an audience as possible”.
Abhinav Bindra is still the only individual Olympic gold medalist from India for Shooting. His journey is an inspiration to thousands of young athletes and we hope it has inspired you too.
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