It was a single shot at a target smaller than the seed of an apple. Despite imperfect vision, Abhinav Bindra shot a perfect ten at the 2008 Beijing Olympics…the rest is history

Abhinav Bindra perceived his seventh rank at the 2004 Athens Olympics as a “defeat”. “It was my biggest disappointment, but it also sowed the seeds of victory in my life. It changed my outlook on life,” he says. That lossled him to win a gold medal — India's first ever individual gold — at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His journey to being world-class shooter — which Bindra describes as lonely — makes for an interesting read in his autobiography “A Shot at History” (Harper Sport, Rs. 399), co-authored by well-known sports writer Rohit Brijnath. The book was launched in Bangalore last week. The subtitle of the book “My obsessive journey to Olympic Gold” aptly summarises the agony and ecstasy of Bindra's endeavour to achieve perfection, which he does with discipline, determination and dedication.

“A shot at history” powerfully captures Bindra's gruelling training schedules — mostly self-imposed — and the mastering of his emotions, from doubt to frustration. The book gives an adrenaline rush. Bindra is all praise for his co-writer. “The book chronicles a dramatic story. I owe much to Rohit who is an exceptional writer.” Bindra is reticent, as described in his book. But when you mention shooting in any context, Bindra's iron determination is revealed.

It's intriguing that Bindra chose to write his autobiography even when he's at the prime of his career. To this contention, Bindra replies: “I wrote this book to share my experiences with young athletes. I want to tell them that there's hope and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Also, I communicate only through the media, this book gave me a chance to portray my true self.”

The book explains how shooting is a lonely sport, how unlike tennis or cricket, shooting allows fewer opportunities to reclaim victory.

That said, some argue that sports such as tennis is more intensive, which requires stamina. “Every sport has different dynamics. You cannot afford a single error, there's no lucky chance. You have only one shot. The target is tiny, making it hard to hit at the centre. It's like aiming for perfection,” contends Bindra.

In the book, Bindra describes the moment of winning the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a “relief” but he chooses to forget it. “I can't be immersed in the past!” he says simply.

He isn't yet considering opening a shooting academy. “I still have a long way to go. I'm still discovering the best in me,” he concludes.

Keywords: Abhinav Bindra