Bindra upset at coaches being ignored

Kamesh Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: Reigning World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra is an upset man.

The reason: he does not find the names of his mentors, Lt. Col. Jagir Singh Dhillon and Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee, among the list of Dronacharya awardees recommended by a panel for final approval by the Union Sports Minister.

Significant contribution

“I wrote to Sports Minister M.S. Gill, strongly presenting the case of the two, as they have worked with me for the last 14 years, absolutely selflessly, and made significant contribution in me becoming the first individual Olympic champion (in India).

“I had to write to the Sports Minister, because it was my mistake that I didn’t notice the last date of application for the awards,” said Abhinav on Tuesday.

Abhinav clarified that though he had expert coaches like Gaby Buehlmann, Heinz Reinkemier and Dr. Uwe Riesterer as his guides, he constantly utilised the services of both Dhillon and Bhattacharjee during his entire shooting career.

Quite interestingly, Dr. Gill had, in fact, fought the case for Lt. Col. Dhillon, for a suitable recognition for him last year with the Punjab Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal. The Sports Minister sent a reminder to the Punjab Chief Minister in January this year on the subject.

It was Dhillon, associated with shooting for more than 50 years as a competitor, representing the country in three Asian Games, who was floored when a 13-year-old Abhinav wrote to him in 1995, requesting him to be taken as a trainee with a promise that he would work hard and make the coach proud one day.

“He not only taught me shooting, but over the years, whenever I have trained at home in Chandigarh, early morning or late night, Col. Dhillon has always been around to monitor me. I am indebted to him,” said Abhinav.

Dhillon had joined the Army along with the legendary athlete Milkha Singh, and the two have been in close touch ever since. Milkha thanked his friend Dhillon heartily when Abhinav won the gold in Beijing. Milkha went on record that Abhinav deserved the Bharat Ratna.

Doctor’s support

While Dhillon has not been with Abhinav in international competitions around the world, Dr. Bhattacharjee has been helping him to be at his best, physically and mentally over the years, particularly during international competitions. Dr. Bhattacharjee has been with him at three Olympics — Sydney, Athens and Beijing — apart from the World Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2006.

“Amit has done three doctorates just to help me be at my best,” said Abhinav.

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