India’s only individual Olympics gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra, is upbeat about the string of talented shooters coming up in the country — a discipline that has seen youngsters do very well on the big stages in 2018.
“In shooting we (India) are pretty developed. There were 27 medals in the World Championship in which we did fantastically well. We just need to keep our heads focused and continue that process,” Bindra told reporters on Thursday.
“We seem to be quite fortunate because we have string of young shooting athletes, coming through day in and day out, and I think that’s a very positive sign for the long term development of shooting,” the 36-year-old shooter said on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
The 10m air rifle gold medallist in the 2006 World Championship in Zagreb and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was evidently referring to talented 16-year-old pistol shooters like Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary who are making waves at the international level.
According to Bindra, the current lot of Indian shooters are more aspiring and also benefiting from more exposure than the ones from his generation.
“The mindset is different. The young athletes of today are mentally much more aspirational and they have much more exposure and I think they want to go out and win. In my times, I had a defensive attitude, my generation had a defensive attitude which has changed significantly now,” he said.
Bindra also said that the shooting was a sport where even inexperienced or young shooters could win Olympics medals, which has happened in the past.
“Shooting is an interesting sport because you can have people inexperienced at competitive level winning Olympic gold medals (like) in the past. And you have highly-experienced people also winning it, so it’s a highly open field. I won’t say that their inexperience is of any disadvantage to them, (on the contrary) to my mind it can be an advantage.”
“When you are young you are able to just focus on sports by cutting down the distractions. You just got out there and don’t know what to expect and focus on what you are supposed to do and at times it can help,” he added.
Bindra also complimented the state of Odisha, the main sponsors of both men’s and women’s hockey, for taking the sports route to promote the state.
“I think Odisha has done a fantastic job in using sport as a platform to bring society together and also enhance the image of their state at a global stage using sports as a medium.
“Sport is a very powerful and positive medium and I’m glad to see that a state government in India has taken that route. They can have a fancy brand ambassador also but they have chosen to invest in sport and I compliment them whole-heartedly,” he said.