Abhinav Bindra

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Is Shobhha De completely out of kilter? Not really!

Shobhha De’s series of ‘well-timed’ tweets deploring Indian athletes’ performances at the Olympics was roundly castigated by the Twitteratti with Abhinav Bindra and Sachin Tendulkar joining the discordant chorus.


Sachin Tendulkar:

“The athletes give their best in their efforts to win a medal. All the Indian athletes in Rio 2016 have my support. They work for years and years but when you miss out narrowly, you obviously feel bad.

When the results don’t go your way, that is when you need to support them.

The first half didn’t go our way but you have to support them when the chips are down.”

But there can’t be smoke without fire (not unless it’s dry ice, of course).

Five days into the Games and the medals tally still shows nought against India’s listing.

The shooters have disappointed sorely with only Abhinav Bindra coming close to a bronze and Dipa Karmakar making the vault final in gymnastics.

The archers continue to keep Indians back home waiting for their maiden medal despite years of selection and training to  promote this ancient art and its modern avatar.

The London Olympics saw India claim six medals—two in shooting, two in wrestling and one each in badminton and boxing.

The expectations were that the Indian contingent of 119 would clinch at least seven this time.

That’s less than a six per cent chance of a medal for our sports-persons.

Is that what’s to be expected from our competitors—that 94 per cent of them are to be no-hopers and just make up the numbers and soak in the sights?

Admittedly, the qualification marks have been made stiffer in recent times and for most Indian athletes from sports other than cricket, a chance to participate in the Olympics is the highlight of their low-storied careers.

But surely we can and should demand more from them. Surely at least 25% of them should be realistic medal contenders and the rest should be earmarked as talents for the future sent to assimilate the ethos and pressure of the Games so that they are not overcome with stage fright the next time around.

The qualification marks too could be made a lot more stringent than the minimum needed.

Yes, De’s remarks were ill-advised and probably nothing more than a publicity stunt. It’s a wonder whether our Indian athletes would worry too much about a socialite columnist otherwise.

Perhaps, it’s time Ms. De penned a novella on the state of Indian sport and its heroes (and heroines) rather than her much-beloved Bollywood which conversely draws significant inspiration (and box-office success) from the annals of Indian sport in recent times.


Back to shooting school with 70% attendance compulsory

It’s back to school for our national shooters.

Headmaster Raninder Singh,  NRAI president, has cracked the whip.

Air rifle, pistol and shotgun shooters have to minimally attend 70% of the training camps.

Else they will not be allowed to represent the country at international events.

The immediate trigger for this rule change are the “baseless” sexual harassment charges against national coach Stanislav Lapidus by Anjali Bhagwat, Suma Shirur, Sanjeev Rajput, Ayonika Paul, Lajja Gauswami, Tejaswani Sawant and Kuheli Ganguly.

Singh said:

“When you don’t attend the national camps, how can you accuse him (Lapidus) of not attending to you? Most of the time our top shooters remain absent from the camp.”

The rule affects ‘hobbyist‘ Abhinav Bindra and army shooters Jitu Rai and Vijay Kumar most.

The policy , however, is quite progressive—for an Indian body.

Young and single mothers can miss camp during emergencies.

20 elite shooters had skipped the recently conducted senior national camp in Thiruvananthapuram.

At the same camp, 14 army shooters had received orders to report back to their units for selection to the World Military Games in South Korea from October 2-11.

The trials were scheduled for July 2. The national camp concluded on July 6.

An NRAI representative said:

“The Army told us about their selection trials at the last minute. NRAI was always clear in its scheduling that the shooters will have to report for the camp after the World Cup trials. Army never informed us in advance about their trials, otherwise we would have worked out a solution. NRAI has requested them to postpone their trials by a week so that their shooters can report to them after July 6.”

The Army later rescinded its orders.

The shooting camp was also hit by a food poisoning episode with at least 12 participants hospitalized.

Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela and Abhinav Bindra are the only shooters to have secured quota places for the Rio Olympics based on their international performances.

A maximum of 30 quota places (two each) in 15 disciplines are available to every country.

Abhinav Bindra: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Abhinav Bindra

What he said:

“In shooting, you need to be dumb. You people think differently, but I’m telling you that I have become dumb. I was always humorous by nature but, maybe, no one noticed it. Or, maybe, I looked just too intense or serious to others.”

Abhinav Bindra is so focused on his sport that he seems obtuse.

When questioned whether he has matured with age:

“I would like to enjoy the sport. I am here at the moment because I like the sport more than I used to. In the last few years, I have had this great realisation that I am actually in love with this sport.”

What he really meant:

“What’s seems stupid to most others makes eminent sense to me. Shooting is thus a dumb sport. Don’t you think?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Humour is in the understanding of the beholder.”

Abhinav Bindra: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Photograph of Abhinav Bindra (Winner Gold Meda...

Abhinav Bindra Is Really Serious About Getting Real

What he said:

“It’s time we got real. The concept of honorary posts is rubbish.”

Abhinav Bindra is no proponent of the status quo when it comes to Indian sports and its administrative bodies.

India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist continues his tirade against the satraps plaguing the system in an article in the Hindustan Times applauding Ajay Maken’s National Sports Federation (NSF) bill seeking accountability and transparency in the running of sports bodies.

[Bindra devoted a whole chapter in his autobiography,A Shot At History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold, to his experiences with Indian bureaucracy.

A sampling (via Deccan Chronicle):

The tone is patronising, the manner feudal, the atmosphere unwelcoming. I am their job, but I feel like their burden. These are bookkeepers, who look like they feel a physical pain in parting with money that is not really theirs, who have little understanding of sports yet will interrogate you suspiciously… It is humiliating, it is tiring.


Bindra writes:

Running sports is not a joke and instilling professionalism and passion is what we should be striving for. After all, the ultimate aim is to win medals at the highest level. Keeping aside personal glory, my Olympic gold is embarrassing when I look at the country’s history of participation in the Olympics!

Bindra is all for the provision seeking to limit tenure in administrative posts.

Bindra said:

“At age 70, priorities change. It is a stage in life when one likes to play with grandchildren rather than worry about athletes’ tickets and visa problems. Fair enough, but stop meddling in everything.”

What he really meant:

“There is no free lunch. It’s administrators who enjoy perks of office while they would have sports persons and the public believe that they are doing them and the country a favour by providing their services gratis. It’s just lunch money—from taxpayers.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Gold medals for our officials too when we win. How about that? Do I hear an aye?”

Abhinav Bindra’s Name Certainly Isn’t ‘Avinash’

What he said:

“Yeah, he called me Avinash!”

Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medallist at the Olympics, reveals his bitterness with the state of sports  administration in the country.

Bindra recently released his autobiography,‘A Shot At History’, co-written with Rohit Brijnath.

An excerpt from his interview in the Times Of India:

You’ve titled a chapter ‘Mr Indian Official:
Thanks For Nothing’. Why such bitterness?

It’s just a very honest account of my experiences of Indian sport in the last 16 years. See, a sports administrator needs to have a fine understanding of the dynamics and uncertainties of sports, the planning and precision that goes into winning. Our sports administrators lack knowledge and attention to detail. They’re all nice people, but without an understanding of sports, which becomes a barrier. Running sport is bloody hard work ! It’s serious business. The whole idea of doing it as an honorary, half-hearted thing is just not good enough. The efficiency of sports officials has to match that of athletes. And their record is telling.

On winning his gold medal, Bindra says that then IOA head Suresh Kalmadi was unable to recall his first name calling him ‘Avinash’ instead.

What he really meant:

“I wonder if that was the name of one of his close relatives.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“What’s in a name?”

Abhinav Bindra: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Abhinav Bindra and Mental Coach Dr. Amit Bhatt...

Abhinav Bindra Differs On Gold

What he said:

I once got yak milk from China because I was told it enhances concentration. It didn’t. I attached electrodes to my head to view the activity in my brain when I shot well. I lasered off my love handles. Let’s be clear: We’re not you. We’re not better than you, or other athletes, just caught in lives mostly weirder than most.

Abhinav Bindra, India’s first ever gold medallist—at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—in an individual Olympic event recounts the myriad attempts at  securing that little bit extra, that edge, that would separate him from his competitors—make him a better shooter.

Bindra’s autobiography, “A Shot At History”, is to be released on October 28, 2011.

The 260-page book, co-written with journalist and sports writer, Rohit Brijnath, is published by HarperCollins.

Bindra writes:

We have to be a little insane to do this, a trifle obsessive, almost as single-minded as shaven monks who sit for years meditating under trees in search of distant nirvana.

Of the fateful evening the day before he clinched his historic medal, Bindra says:

The mission, whose worth would be evaluated tomorrow…butterflies tango in the stomach.

The answer was a McDonalds meal and a long walk. I am too wired to sleep, but then I have already practiced going without sleep. I stand in my balcony at 3 am and look out into the dark nothingness, another athlete swallowing his fear in this dormitory of the strange and the gifted.

I felt the pressure of the Olympics, as if a nervous breakdown was imminent, and I carried it (a miniature bottle of Jack Daniels) with me. Now, on this sleepless night, I retrieve it from my toilet kit, I twist it open, empty it into my nervous stomach. As if it is an antidote to everything that assails me.

Bindra slept just an hour that night.

  What he really meant:

“Obsession—-thy name is gold.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“The book’s merely yakkety-yakkety-yak.”

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