Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
An inspiration for several aspiring shooters, Abhinav Bindra’s journey as a top-notch shooter began at a very early age of 15, when he became the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, that were held in Kuala Lumpur.
After a disappointing maiden Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, he first tasted success on the global stage at the 2001 Munich World Cup, when he fired a score a 597/600 to clinch the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle category. That score was also the new junior world record at the time.
He continued his impressive showing the following year, at the Commonwealth Games, that were held in Manchester, winning the silver in the 10m Air Rifle Singles category and clinching the bronze in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category. Despite entering the 2004 Athens Olympics in good form, the 32-year-old once again failed to raise his game on the big stage and finished at a shattering seventh in the finals, despite finishing in third at the qualification stage.
However, every champion has a turning point in his career and Bindra too had one in 2006, when he clinched Gold at the 2006 ISSF World Cup, held in Zagreb in Croatia and also bettered his performance from Manchester to Melbourne at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he won Gold in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category and a bronze in Singles category of the same event.
But possibly Abhinav’s greatest achievement came 48 months later in 2008, when on August 11th, he clinched the Gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event at the Beijing Olympics, thereby becoming the country’s first individual gold medalist at the Summer Games.
Two years later, he added another feather to his cap, when he led the Indian contingent out at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and then went on win Gold in the 10m Air Rifle Pairs category.
After his stellar performance in 2008, much was expected out of him at the 2012 London Olympics but unfortunately, he didn’t have the best of times at the Games, failing to go past the qualification round. But he returned with a vengeance 2 years later, where, a day after announcing this would his final Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he clinched the Gold in the 10m Air Rifle event.
Abhinav has also been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2001 and with Rio 2016, expected to be his Olympic swansong, one can expect him to put forth a strong show and hopefully clinch another medal before bidding adieu.