Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian to have won an individual gold medal at Olympics, has decided to stand down as a professional. In his official statement, he stated that he felt it was time to move on and handed over the leadership to the next generation. He also stated that it was an emotional day for him, perhaps because he won’t ever be doing what he loved doing the best – representing his country on a global scale. Bindra competed at Rio and came really close to adding another medal to India’s tally. He may have been absolutely gutted, but he never expressed any such emotion to Indian media assembled at his retirement ceremony organized at a five-star hotel at Faridabad, Haryana.
Opinions on Rio
Speaking on his missed opportunity at Rio, Bindra said while he indeed missed winning another medal for India only by a whisker and came fourth, he achieved a lot of closure from the entire experience. Bindra, a professional for 20 years, has indeed left behind a glorious trail. The humble champion may not accept that he has achieved anything like that – instead choosing to let others decide the magnanimity of his contributions and accomplishments – but it can’t be denied. He also thanked National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for the support he has received at all stages in his career. The gold medallist from 2008 Beijing Olympics also lauded the national association for the support that they extended to all his colleagues.
Raninder Singh, the President of NRAI, was distinctly praised by Bindra, who mentioned that how, under the leadership of Singh, the sport has progressed. Regarding himself, he stated that he has always been a proponent of hard work as he believed that it was the only way. He said that he had given all that he could to the sport of shooting which, in turn, has given back more.
Bindra also stated that he is taking back virtues like dedication, hard work, and continued persistence from his career. He also expressed hope that the perspective in India regarding Olympic sports was changing – even if slowly – and that was a major positive for him.
Raninder on Abhinav
During the event, the gold medallist was also felicitated by NRAI. Raninder Singh said that it was just a small gesture of appreciation from the organization. He also called him an exemplary athlete – and rightly so – for the focus and dedication with which he trained.
Bindra, the 33-year-old Indian shooter, started his journey in Olympics sports back in Sydney 2000. Until then, he has represented India in 3 Olympic finals and 5 Olympics in all. He missed out on the finals in Sydney and London. He has been legendary in 10m air rifle segment. As stated by famed trap shooter, Manavjit Singh, the legend has also been successful in World Championships, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games. Singh is right when he says that what he has done for shooting in India can’t be matched by anyone else.
Bindra’s views on Olympic culture in India
During August 2016 Bindra became the chairman of an NRAI review committee that was formed to look into possible reasons as to why there were no medals from shooting at the recently-concluded Olympics. Regarding his position at NRAI, Bindra has made it pretty clear that the committee may be interested in looking at the past, but he himself felt that such an approach was unnecessary.
He feels that in order to ensure India does well at future editions of Olympics, it was essential to look into the grassroots and develop champions. It needed to be done in a sustained manner. He also opined that India needed to prepare with 2024 in mind, since it takes at least 7-8 years to develop an Olympic games champion.
It is an indictment on India’s sporting ambitions that cricket – so ruthlessly criticized by Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Commission – is the most professionally-managed sport in the country. It speaks volumes for the state that other sports are in India – especially the Olympic sports.
Coming to shooting, one wonders if forming a committee and appointing someone of the stature of Bindra would really do away with the lack of facilities and funding in the sport, as previously stated by the likes of Jaideep Banerjee. Perhaps Bindra, who has stated that he will be working in the sports medicine business in order to earn a living and raise awareness regarding these issues in India, can turn things around, but will that be enough? After all, Bindra was able to get the latest facilities to practise at his farmhouse, because he is from a wealthy family, but can the same be said of other athletes in this game as well?
This was something that Deepa Karmakar alluded to as well. After returning from Rio she expressed hope that her success would now, at least, lead to better facilities at the centres. One can only hope that more people like Bindra come into administration and improve the state of Olympic sports in India.
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