Abhinav Bindra has high hopes of shooting gold at Tokyo
Abhinav Bindra of India poses with his gold medal at Beijing Olympics 2008. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
ABHINAV Bindra, India’s only individual gold medallist at the Olympics, feels the country’s shooting contingent at the Tokyo Games has a decent chance of winning the top medal. The 38-year-old, who won gold in shooting at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, told Gulf News in a recent interview that even if 50 per cent of India’s shooters perform to their potential, the country will have four gold medals straight. Bindra also pinned high hopes on athletes in other disciplines who will represent India in the forthcoming games.
“I look at our Indian Olympic team going to Tokyo with a lot of optimism because never before in the history of our country, have we seen athletes going to the Olympics have such a realistic chance of winning gold medals,” Bindra said in the interview.
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‘Four golds right there even if 50% of shooters perform to their potential’
“For example our shooting contingent has 15 members, 8 of which are world no 1 or world no 2. Even if 50% of them perform to their potential, we have 4 gold medals right there and it is not just in shooting but in other sports where we have world class athletes who won championships at the elite level going into these games and these athletes also represent a new India, a generation which is far more self- confident and has far more belief than my generation or at least me,” he added.
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When asked about the pressure that athletes face at a mega event like the Olympics, Bindra said it is the part and parcel of sport and it depends on individuals how they tackle them.
“ But you are also making a larger point on pressure athletes have to face and I fully agree that we have unique lives because here we have to constantly face success and we have to constantly face failure and both of them have challenges. Dealing with success is hard, not just failure,” he said, adding, “Athletes have physiological pressure in training which is intense and it also has an impact on the mindset and mental health because you are pushing your body to such extreme limits and if you don’t recover physically then it will impact you, mentally as well.”
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Bindra said factors like lack of sleep, impending end of one’s career, different time zones challenge an athlete’s journey. He said the athletes are perceived to be superhuman while the reality is that they also are vulnerable because they live in an uncertain world. “Some cope better than others but it is challenging all the same,” he said.
Speaking in reference to the ongoing pandemic that has added to the challenge for the athletes, Bindra said the silver lining has been the destigmatisation of mental health to a great extent. He welcomed the fact that people are talking more openly about mental health and the same is being seen in the sporting world.