ABHINAV BINDRA, 29
10M AIR RIFLE Mohali, Punjab
SPORTING STYLE Fifteen minutes after winning the first individual gold for India at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Abhinav Bindra could feel just one emotion: Relief. He had overcome the biggest fear of his life: Being in the Olympic limelight. In his world, a mere 0.1 point difference can be the tipping point between coming first and 10th. The ace sharpshooter has described how he mastered the obsession for detail in his memoir A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold ( 2011). He used rubber from Ferrari tyres to craft shoe soles, imported yak’s milk from China for strength, and even mapped his brain to understand it better.
VANTAGE POINT India’s only gold medallist personifies quiet confidence. His perpetual hunt for ways to enhance mental potency will prepare him for the pressure of the final rounds.
CHALLENGE AHEAD No Indian has ever won a medal in two Olympic events. Bindra’s target is to equal or better his 2008 tally.
OLYMPIC RUN- UP Since Beijing 2008, Bindra has worked on improving his fitness levels. He started the Olympic year by beating long- time rival and Olympic champion Zhu Qinan at the Asian Shooting Championship held in Doha to win gold. But despite being a gold medallist, his score at the Olympic qualifier in Munich was 596, which ranked him eighth. He managed to book his berth only by hitting a 52.6 in the shoot- off.
“People’s expectations and expert comments are part and parcel of the game. I have learnt to embrace the pressure, not fight it.”