Abhinav Bindra was only 17 while competing at the Sydney Olympics. Eight years later, at the Beijing Games, the air rifle shooter became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, PTI reported.

Reflecting on his journey, Bindra stressed on the importance of competing against the world’s best. “It takes about eight years to develop as an Olympic athlete, very few athletes actually who go there win medal in their first Games,” Bindra said at a promotional event in Mumbai on Monday.

“10,000 athletes go and compete at an Olympic Games, only 300 go back with a gold medal, the number is very, very less. It takes time for an athlete to develop, you have to give the athletes a chance and time to develop and go there.

“The experience which they gain from their first Games, they may not (win) a medal, but it is going to add to their experience which will help them to go and win in perhaps next Games,” he said.

Bindra’s performance was forgettable in the 2000 Sydney Olympics but he said it was these Games which instilled in him the belief that he could one day win gold at the world’s biggest sporting event.

“I went to five Olympic Games and my favourite is Sydney. Why I enjoyed the Sydney so much, (it is) because of the people of Australia. For me Sydney Olympics is special, I finished 10th or 11th at those games. My performance at Sydney game me the belief that one day perhaps I can go and win the gold medal (at the Olympics),” Bindra said.

Bindra also said that events like the Commonwealth Games held its own importance.

“The Commonwealth Games is an important benchmark in the whole career path of an athlete. The three multi-sporting disciplines where we participate in - Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games. Each one is a stepping stone to building up to the Olympic Games and each one is important. The level, competitions differ event to event, but they all are important.

“I won nine medals at the Commonwealth Games but I ended up winning my first individual gold at the last games (2014 Glasgow),” he said.

The next big challenge for Indian athletes would be the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will be held at Gold Coast, Australia.