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The Olympian Will

Abhinav Bindra’s autobiography reveals both the man and the dogged sportsman

Written by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore |
November 12, 2011 2:49:49 am

Most shooters of the Indian team would not know Abhinav Bindra,the man. Very early on,Bindra had crossed his chest with his arms and shut himself to the world. He now reveals himself,the man and the shooter,in his book A Shot at History,written with Rohit Brijnath.

The book takes you on a journey with Bindra,through his early years,his love for shooting as a sport,and his journey to the victory stand at Beijing Olympics. It’s a story that is likely to inspire youth who want to make history with a sporting gun in their hands. For an air rifle shooter,this book could be a bible; Bindra has gone to great lengths in explaining the technical aspect of his sport in simple words.

It’s a first-hand account of the travails of a shooter. It’s not an easy sport,with the shooter in constant competition with himself,the world and,as Bindra reveals,with the sports bureaucracy that works against him,rather than with him.

Like a man possessed,Bindra strove for that elusive form,he tried everything from meditating in a “sadhna tank” and climbing a 40-ft-high pole,to neuro-feedbacks and commando training,ultrasounds and whiskey shots,and staying up through a night to put an idea to test. And then,there were the thousands of hours spent standing alone and

looking through a hole,at a black

spot 10 meters away. His endeavours come to life with the pictures put together for the reader. (The cover photo,with the Olympic gold medal in colour and Bindra in black and white,is very apt.)

Bindra acknowledges the gift of riches that he has but also lists the disadvantages it brings. It may seem that the many international flights,the numerous coaches at his disposal and the scientific support at his call are the preserve of the rich,but young and struggling sports enthusiasts must not forget that the underlying message in Bindra’s story is that of tremendous will,the will to achieve come what may. It’s a tale of mind over matter. As Bindra says,“I had to find a way to touch the minus part of the Duracell battery within me,the

last dregs of my energy and courage,this you can’t buy.”

Through the book,he pays tribute to his family,especially his mother,without whom his achievements may not have been possible. He lists in detail how various coaches,mentors,skill trainers,guns and equipment manufacturers helped him. It gives the reader a sense of how an Olympic athlete charts a journey,how he is prepared for a fight with equally accomplished gladiators — on a date that comes once in four years,when there are more losers than winners. It’s a must-read for all sports enthusiasts,officials and scribes,as it gives an insight into the sport of shooting. For that matter,every person who has ever challenged the status quo will find that the book resonates with him.

Rohit Brijnath,a sports writer of great repute,whose first book this is,gets Bindra to talk in vivid detail about himself and the sport. He writes beautifully on the subtleties of the mind of a sportsman,and his emotions,before,during and after a win or a loss. His ability to delve into the life of the reclusive Bindra is an achievement,and the book a great contribution to shooting,a sport little known in India.

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