With the Indian shooting team finishing with their best-ever performance with four gold, one silver and three bronze medals at the ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, former Indian shooter and Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra believes that the young shooters have done well and their transition has been smooth. While Chandigarh girl Anjum Moudgill won silver in the women’s 50 m rifle 3P event, Haryana youngster 16-year-old Manu Bhaker claimed two gold medals, including one in the women’s 10 m pistol event in Mexico.
“I think we have done really well in Mexico and the medal tally shows that. It is incredible to see youngsters winning medals and it is great to see the youngsters coming and winning medals at the senior international level. The transition from the junior to elite level has been smooth for the youngsters and the credit must go to the junior training programme and NRAI and the coaches for giving them exposure. Regarding the Commonwealth Games, we have always done well historically but the competition is getting tougher and tougher. We have the strongest team and at the end of the day, it comes down to your from on that particular day,” said Bindra, who launched the region’s first dedicated sports injury rehabilitation centre at a private hospital in Mohali.
During his 22-year-old shooting career, the 35-year-old Bindra qualified for three Olympic finals in the 10 m air rifle event and won India’s first and only individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Bindra finished a credible fourth place, missing the medal by a whisker after losing to eventual silver medallist Sehey Kulish of Ukraine in the 10 m air rifle event. The last two years have seen Bindra launching the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre in Mohali, Delhi and Bengaluru where India’s top athletes come for training and rehabilitation.
“I was quite sure in my mind that I will be quitting the sport after Rio Olympics. My transition has been smooth to run the centres and I think it was something which was needed in the country. The whole medical side is very important and rehabilitation is still neglected in India at the basic level. During my career, I had an opportunity to visit and interact with German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahr and I wanted to bring the same technology and facility to India. Prevention of injuries is also very important and we focus on that at our centre. The elite athletes and paralympic players can get their medical profiles assessed free of cost and there are subsidised rates for other athletes,” shared the former Olympic champion.
The former shooter, who is supporting a large number of athletes under the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust, said Indian shooters need to be consistent to bag quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “This year is important for Indian shooters as there will be quota places on offer for the 2020 Olympics during the World Championships in August-September. With CWG and Asian Games, there will be more pressure on the shooters and they have to train smartly and sustain their performance till the world championships and other quota place events,” added Bindra.