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Champagne stuff from a true great

first_imgIt is turning out to be an extremely profitable summer for the Indian sporting stars in Great Britain. Just a few days after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Young Turks emerged as the lords at Lord’s, the motley mix at the Commonwealth Games has launched India’s medal campaign in right earnest at Glasgow.Abhinav Bindra won the mens 10m air rifle gold on Friday.First things first, this cricket team was not given a ghost of a chance at the start of the series to win a Test in England. Both history and geography were not on India’s side said the cricket pundits.At least, most of us were made to believe that before the commoners grabbed the chances which came their way at Lord’s. Be it centurion Ajinkya Rahane, who batted with elegance at the world’s most famous cricket venue, or tried and tested fast bowler Ishant Sharma, their exploits were scintillating.For long, Ishant has promised more and delivered less. His devastating spell which won India the Test will be remembered for long as the lanky Delhi man showed he could bounce out the opposition even on a worn out browntinged track on the fifth day.Dhoni and his team have their tails up and as the battle resumes in Southampton on Sunday against beleaguered Alastair Cook’s side, another bunch of Indians are on fire in Glasgow.Just as there was pessimism before the cricket series, not many were giving the multidiscipline stars from India the thumbs up to win medals in Glasgow. But one man who has been an integral part of India’s sporting glory for now over 16 years raised the bar once again with his air rifle as he gunned down gold.advertisementAt two months short of his 32nd birthday, Abhinav Bindra won his maiden Commonwealth Games individual gold medal very forcefully. It seems just like yesterday Bindra won India its maiden individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.Two years later, when the Commonwealth Games were held in New Delhi, Bindra was a superstar who wanted a few extra ‘favours’. He was against the National Rifle Association of India’s policy of constant trials to check for consistency and thought an Olympic gold medalist needed a separate weightage. Matters came to a boiling point before the federation, the Sports Authority of India and the Games Organising Committee boss Suresh Kalmadi had to call Bindra for a cool-down meeting!Looking at Bindra today, it’s tough to believe this seasoned pro actually fussed over something so small four years ago. Then again, as someone so mature with a no-nonsense approach in life, Bindra’s tweets a day before his pet event were uncharacteristic as he asked people for their best wishes and prayers.Frankly speaking, someone like Abhinav does not rely on luck and prayers. He lets his beautiful air rifle do the talking. Taking aim at the target situated 10 metres away, freezing his body before pulling the trigger gently, Bindra has been perfecting the art for over 16 years now.In one of his first interviews to me in Sydney, 2000, Bindra had mentioned how he took to shooting. He had gone with his family to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and fell in love with shooting. Four year later, Bindra was amongst the best in Sydney before he came out tops in Beijing.Unlike Jaspal Rana, who started as a prodigy, competed in a clutch of different pistol events and then faded away after the Doha Asian Games, Abhinav Bindra has slogged day in and day out. He has battled back pain, complained of boredom and how doing the same thing day in and day out is not very exciting.Yet, for the champion to continue like this after achieving the biggest goal on the world stage is an example of how much he motivates himself and how his support team works with him.Age is on Bindra’s side, which is why his Twitter announcement that this will be his last Commonwealth Games is a bit surprising. In shooting, one can continue beyond the age of 45. Ask Mansher Singh and Baba Bedi, they are still shooting and part of the Indian squad in Glasgow!In Bindra’s case, he alone will decide when he wants to quit. Motivation for a shooter comes from within and how hard he or she wants to push himself or herself is decided very easily.Bindra will want to continue hard till the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unlike a Leander Paes, who wants to keep pushing simply for the sake of competing in the maximum number of Olympics, each time Bindra shoots, he is a serious medal contender.advertisementThe global shooting community fears him for his hard work and skills and in India, he is a huge role model. Knowing the champion, when he comes home for a short break, he will have a short celebration and then start training for the World Championships and the Incheon Asian Games this September.At a macro level, it is heartening to see new Indian champions crowning themselves in glory in Glasgow, be it in shooting or weightlifting. And I do hope the Narendra Modi government will show a large heart in releasing more funds for athletes’ training. We need to celebrate just as the athletes do.last_img

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