India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra has candidly
highlighted the scenario that surrounded his performance at the Rio Games,
where he missed out on a medal by the proverbial hair’s breadth.
champion recounts narrow miss in updated version of his book
Former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra,
who missed a medal by an agonising margin of 0.1 point at Rio last year, has
added two chapters to his book A Shot At History to capture
the untold drama that he endured in his bid to capture a second Olympic medal.
A medal could have been a befitting climax for a
man who pursued perfection with all the energy and resources, but considering
what he went through, it was a telling end to a career in which Bindra always
placed all the emphasis on the process than the results.
Most of us knew that the fourth place, when he lost
the shoot-off for a medal after being tied, must have hurt him hard, even
though he put up a brave front for the world and called it a “closure.”
What few knew was the fact that Bindra had to visit
many experts in his attempt to control “epileptic seizures.” In a sport where
standing still is the mark of a champion, Bindra had to battle with the
‘quiver’ for long and enrich his achievements with his first Commonwealth Games
gold in 2014. “It is a victory meaningful to me in ways I can’t really
explain,” he writes in the book. He followed that up with his first Asian Games
individual medal before the Rio experience.
Even during the most testing of times, Abhinav was
careful with his medicines. “I am desperate and yet I am very cautious. Every
substance that goes into my body is very carefully checked. I know the WADA
code and I deeply respect its struggle for clean sport. If something goes into
my body which shouldn’t be there, I can’t blame doctors, physios, agents,
parents. It will be my fault,” writes Bindra in the book that is all set to hit
He went to Dr. Muller-Wohlfahrt in Germany to get
about 15 injections of homoeopathic medicine into his spine. He saw Usain Bolt
twice at the clinic.
Even though he did not take the National federation
into confidence, Bindra kept the Chairman of the ISSF medical committee, Dr.
James M. Lally in the loop about his medical condition. He sought a
precautionary Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for a year from May 2014 to May
2015, “purely for safety purposes.”
After considering whether to divulge it all in the
book, Abhinav chose to put everything on record. “I have never been scared of
life or failure or challenge or people’s lazy opinions. I don’t care if people
look at me differently. I only asked myself, is it worth sharing? The answer was
yes,” he says in the book, .
Bindra puts it in his inimitable style, without
seeking sympathy or resorting to any indirect excuse. “I come fourth only
because I am not good enough for third”, he writes. With the decimal scoring in
the qualification phase in the Rio Olympic cycle providing a new twist to the
pursuit of medals, Bindra recalls, how he was “trying to improve on every shot
by a distance smaller than a human hair.” Eventually, it was ironical that he
lost by less than the width of a hair.
“In the 2008 Olympic final I am tied after the
ninth shot and shoot a 10.8 and win gold. Here, in 2016, I shoot a 10.0, Serhiy
Kulish shoots a 10.5. No medal.” he writes, capturing the vagaries of the
sport, where four years of work are decided by a single shot. “Proximity to a
medal is both a privilege and painful,” Bindra concludes.
Rohit Brijnath, who has helped Abhinav Bindra in
narrating his journey, has come up with superb prose.