Indian shooting is under ‘creative pressure’ to deliver at London

Abhinav Bindra tore the negativity engulfing Indian sports with the first individual gold medal at the Beijing Games, but the champion air rifle shooter said that he was adapting to the new situation rather than live in past glory.

Returning to London on Wednesday after a final stint of training in Germany, Bindra who had checked out the range and the facilities at the Games Village for about three days last week, stressed that what he had done four years ago may not be relevant in the current scenario.

“I am prepared in all respects. Physically am in good shape, mind-work has been done, and technically also am in good shape. Let’s see how things go”, said Bindra.

The former world champion and the reigning Asian champion, who had beaten the current world No.1 Zhu Qinan of China in Doha by 0.3 point earlier this season, said his whole approach was different this time. He had done the Commando training before the last Games but said that the formula had changed.

“It is not possible to look back. Circumstances are different. It is important to adapt to the situation prevalent now. What I did four years ago may not be relevant now. Whatever I could, I have done this time,” said Bindra.

Suggesting that the biggest danger with the Olympics was that it drove athletes to a false sense of confidence, seducing them with its aura and reducing them to a state of vulnerability, Bindra said that for an athlete like him it all boiled down to releasing 60 good shots in qualification and 10 good shots in the final.

“There is an aura attached to the Olympics. Athletes are not attached to the drama, at least I am not. You want to do well, because it is the highest level in sports,” he observed.

“I have to go there and shoot one shot at a time. Each shot is a new story. I have prepared with whatever it takes to shoot good at that level. All the resources have been utilised to prepare well. Now it is a matter of doing it. One has to be clever and alert, not to be swayed by the drama. The 70 shots are 70 different challenges. After every shot, the competition gets more and more challenging. That sense of seduction is also more and more,” he said.

For someone who had fired a 10.7 last shot to clinch the gold in the world championship in 2006 and a near perfect 10.8 last shot to snatch the gold from the grasp of the Chinese at the Beijing Games, Bindra said that his great performances in the past did not guarantee anything.

“I may have a lead going into the last shot. But it means nothing. You still need to shoot a good shot,” said Bindra.

The range had felt like a freezer during the Olympic test event, the World Cup at the Royal Artillery Barracks, earlier in the season, but Bindra said that though the weather was a lot better it was unpredictable as ever.

Admitting that Indian shooting was under pressure to deliver, Bindra labelled it was “creative pressure.”

“What Rathore accomplished in 2004, or I did in 2008, was the result of a few hours of good shooting. It is finished. Sure, I have the gold medal from 2008 and nobody can take that away. But it is a new game, a new chapter. It is an open field,” conceded Bindra.

Quite happy about the capacity of a clutch of shooters, Bindra said “there is so much talent. Everyone going into the Olympics has a good shot. In shooting, it is impossible to predict. We have to be patient for a few days. All the shooters have proved themselves in competition. Each one is capable of going all the way on a given day.”

Impressed by the overall growth of Indian sports, Bindra agreed that there was a lot to look up to in the current Olympics.

“Indian sports is looking positive. We have made progress, and moved ahead. We are not a powerhouse; we have no factory like China to make champions. For us, it is a lot of work. So many players have put in the effort. They are all keen to prove themselves at the highest level. It is a good sign that the contingent is high on hopes. Earlier, it was not the case,” said Bindra.

As far as his own state was concerned, Bindra said that he was not running away from reality and was ready to face the challenge on July 30.

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