The passion and progression of the man with the golden gun in his own inspiring words
Aday after Abhinav Bindra won the 10 m air rifle gold, India’s first in 28 years, many athletes asked him at the Beijing Olympic Games village: what next? Bindra, witness to China’s emergence as an athletic powerhouse, could not think about a sport revolution back home in India with just one Olympic gold. Still, he proudly said the foundation for one may be forming. There will be more than one gold for India at 2012 London, Bindra said confidently. He displays this very assurance in his memoirs.
The book starts with the plight of a shooter— Bindra himself—who could not bear the shame of finishing seventh at the 2004 Athens Olympics. At that point, another four years to Beijing seemed exhausting. The loss made Bindra think of retirement at 20. He came to win the gold, yet left wanting to vomit. Enraged, he almost threw away his gun.
But he didn’t. And that was the turning point in Bindra’s life, which he narrates brilliantly: Gaby Buehlmann, Bindra’s long-time German coach, told him that the shooting floor at Athens had a slight bounce, which meant Bindra was doomed the moment he stood on the tiles. How could the gods be so cruel, wept Bindra. Gaby teased him, “Become a Catholic, learn to be on your knees.” Bindra found his feet again.
Bindra’s consultant coach Uwe Riesterer helped the shooter steady his losing grip. A letter from him contained over 2,000 words but three lines made tremendous sense to Bindra: “You are next in line! World Champion in 2006. Olympic Champion in 2008.” Bindra regained focus and two incidents changed his world. At the Zargeb World Championship in 2006, Bindra remembered his childhood days of shooting paper targets under a tree when he was on the final shot. It was one trigger pull away from greatness. Crack, came the sound. With 10.7 on board, Bindra was World Champion. Two years later in Beijing, Bindra found himself in that place of reckoning—that brilliant, terrifying place that haunts every athlete before the big day.
As he aimed for the final shot, Bindra remembered his mother. He picked up his rifle and touched the trigger. It was over fast, as close to perfect as you can get; 10.8 points on the board was enough to guarantee gold. The book shows how simply getting on with life is one of the best ways to counter grief. Discovery arrives in the strangest of places. At the oddest of times.