Abhinav Bindra permanently etched his name in Indian sports history when he shot a superb 10.8 in 10 m air rifle event in Beijing Olympics on 11 August 2008. By becoming the first ever to win an individual Olympic gold medal for India, he silenced the naysayers, who held that India would never win individual gold at the Olympics. He proved that the country had capacity to produce champions in Olympic sports other than hockey.
He totaled 700.5 points to beat world champion and the gold medalist at Athens, Zhu Qinan of China (699.7) and Finland’s Henri Hakkinen (699.4 points). His winning the gold will inspire many sportsmen and women to believe that the dream of winning an Olympic gold is achievable even by an Indian.
Besides being conferred with Padma Bhushan, India’s most prestigious civilian award in 2009, he has been given several cash prizes for his 2008 Olympics Gold medal. L.N. Mittal of Arcelor Mittal gave him 1.5 crore, the Central Government awarded him a 50 lakh cash prize, the Board of Control for Cricket in India gave him 25 lakh cash prize and the Steel Ministry of India gave him 15 lakh cash prize. Several State Governments including Haryana, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala has awarded him for his achievement. The Railway Ministry of India has provided him a free lifetime railway pass.
The baby faced lad from Chandigarh, Abhinav Bindra, has made Indians proud. People who watched his feat remember his composed and self-assured look with which he walked into the mixing zone of the Shooting Ranges hall. His gold has given a new hope to the nation starved of Olympic medals. It has given a tremendous boost to the enthusiasm towards Olympic sport in India where individual success is equated with a country’s success.
Hailing from an affluent family, Bindra had the luxury of an indoor range in his backyard. At the age of 15, he was the youngest participant at the 1998 commonwealth Games. He was the recipient of Arjuna Award in 2000. He shot into limelight by winning a bronze in the 2001 Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score of 597/600.
He became the first Indian shooter to win a World Championship gold. He was bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2001. In the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth games, he won the gold in the Paris event and silver in the Individual event.
Today, Abhinav Bindra is the brightest star among a new breed of talented Indian shooters. Born on 28 September 1983, Bindra developed the passion for the game at an early age. Bindra’s potential talent was first spotted by his first coach Lt. Col. J.S. Dhillon. His current coach is five-time Olympic shooter Gabriele Buhlmann from Basel, Switzerland, with whom he trained in Germany before the Olympics. In the 2000 Olympics he achieved a score of 590, placing him 11th in the qualification round, and did not qualify for the finals since only the top 8 compete in the finals.
He has graduated from the University of Colorado in the United States with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He is currently pursuing Doctorate in Masters of Business Management. He also holds Diploma in Sports Mental Management from Munich and Lanny School of Mental Management, USA. In September 2008, SRM University, Chennai conferred him with Honorary Doctorate in Literature.
Apart from being a professional shooter, Abhinav Bindra holds the position of the CEO of Abhinav Futuristics—the sole distributor of Walther arms in India. He has sponsorship tie-ups with some of the renowned brands including Samsung and Sahara Group. He is also Director of Abhinav Hotels & Inns Pvt. Ltd.
Bindra was the first of many thousands of relay runners who carried the baton for the New Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, across the globe He was also honoured with the two top awards at the first ever SAHARA Indian Sports Awards the ‘Sportsman of the Year’ and his gold medal winning feat at the Beijing Olympics was declared as ‘the Most Memorable Moment of the Year’ in Indian Sport.
The Government of India has recently invited him to be a part of their initiatives towards national integration. He has also been made a member of Central Selection Committee for the National Youth Awards 2008-09, constituted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
Abhinav stresses about the importance of physical fitness for shooting, which is a reaction oriented sport. He stresses on the importance of training for the specificity of the sport and the importance of stability, flexibility and coordination. Abhinav himself does a significant amount of cardiovascular training.