Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, said that several Indian athletes participating in this year’s Tokyo Olympics can be counted as a realistic prospect, paving the way for a best-ever medal haul.

India’s best showing at the Games to date remains the six medals at London 2012.

“Tokyo Olympics could end up with our best ever medal haul even though the times are challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bindra said on Monday, at a webinar organised by Merchants’ Chambers of Commerce & Industry.

“Sport is not scripted but I do hope that we come back with our best medal haul and that means we will come back with five-six medals and better the London haul.”

Bindra, who created history by winning the country’s first individual Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, is optimistic about a strong performance by the Indian shooting contingent.

“I think each one of them has the ability to do their best, they have proved themselves in the last two-three years.

“There are definite medal hopes not just in shooting but across other disciplines as well. We have many people who can be considered as realistic medal hopes going into Tokyo. But a lot also depends on that particular day,” he said.

The former world champion in 10m air rifle said the shooting scene has changed a lot from the time when he had started 22 years ago.

“Shooting is now dominated by youngsters but when I was growing up, I was competing with older and experienced people who were double or triple our age. I don’t think it was a challenge but it was an interesting dynamic,” he said, responding to a question.

Speaking about the time after his Beijing heroics, when he contemplated giving up shooting, Bindra said meditation helped him regain his focus on the sport.

“Post Beijing I wanted to give up. I went for a meditation retreat, a 10-day Vipasana where I am supposed to meditate for 10 hours a day. That’s when I realised that I was still in love with the process.

“Actually it was the boring and mundane that again brought me back to the sport,” the former shooter, who now runs the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre, said.

With PTI Inputs