Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Abhinav Bindra looked surprisingly calm and composed on the podium when the Indian Tricolour went up and the national anthem was played at the shooting hall here on Monday. There was just that small wave of the hand, and a smile which was there and yet not there. In contrast, the Chinese shooter Zhu Qinan, who won the silver medal, wept on the podium and shed buckets of tears later at the press conference. Bindra looked unfazed, untouched by it all. It did not seem as if he had done the impossible. It was, as if, impossible is nothing. But he has always been that way. Chased by the media all through the complex — from the main hall, to the mixed zone, to the doping lab, to the bathroom, Bindra kept repeating his words. “I've trained very hard. It has paid off.” He did not want to talk about the pain he went through in the past two years. He did not want to talk about his back injury, the surgery, the rehabilitation and the continuous grind. He just kept telling veteran shooter Mansher Singh, who was there with him after the victory, “Joey, I want to go home. Please help me getting an early booking. I just want to be with my parents.” It's no secret that his parents have supported through very difficult times. His father, a wealthy businessman in Chandigarh, even built his son a shooting range at home. Abhinav never went to college though he did complete his MBA from US through distance learning. “This medal belongs to my family,” he said. When asked by a European correspondent what he does for a living, he shot back: “I have been drilling holes on a black paper for 10 years. That’s what I do for a living.” Bindra has no patience for run-of-the-mill questions. He has no patience for unwanted criticism either. He simply clams up. He has been criticized often for his attitude, his arrogance, his tendency to simply switch off during interviews. Talking about the Athens disappointment and the fight later, he said: “I finished seventh at Athens. It shattered me. It was hard for me to take the plunge back. I kept telling myself, be at it, be at it'. It has all fallen into place now.” However, he did show a flash of humour when world media wanted to know more about him. How excited was he thinking about going home now? “I really don't like planes, you know.” Straight and simple. Don't ask him the obvious, he'll s t i n g back. On his way out of the complex, he was again mobbed by India media. He stopped and obliged. “I'm pretty exhausted but happy with my good job.” Why are you so serious all the time? Even now? “I was born with a poker face.” Does he remember Rathore's silver in Athens? “Yes, I was there. It was very motivating. It was a great moment. Inspired me to work hard for four years,” he said and then put his win perspective. “I shot better at Athens but got nothing for it. Sport is like a gamble. Anybody else could have won today. It was my day.” So, Abhinav Bindra, cool as a cucumber, played the gamble of his life and won. Should we call him the man with the golden gun now?