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The Rediff Special/Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Bindra reflects a self-confident generation
August 11, 2008
It was the Olympian moment but with a difference for Abhinav Bindra and India.
It is common sight of an Olympian breaking into tears of joy at the medal stand. After all the occasion of scaling the ultimate height in human endeavour in any field is overpowering. And, that too when the journey happens to be long and arduous, the search for glory so ambitious and the destination so uncertain, which makes the entire enterprise extremely lonesome.
That is why Abhinav stood out. His story goes beyond sports.
As the gold medal for rifle shooting was being bestowed on him, he stood calmly, without a trace of the exuberance that characterises such occasions. It was apparent that he meant what he said in his early comments: "I believe in myself".
At that historic moment, Bindra brought up something unique in the modern Indian discourse. He said that he just performed aggressively, without getting into agitation about the fruits of his action, as he was in the last round of the competition.
On another occasion, a long time ago, that was also precisely what was told to another legendary archer, Arjun, on a battle field in Kurushetra, not far from Bindra's farmhouse near Chandigarh.
No doubt, Bindra didn't have a saarathy [charioteer] to guide him. But his equanimity immensely helped him hit the bull's eye. In the last round, he literally came from behind and overtook China's world champion Zhu Qinan and Finland's Henri Hakkinen, who was first going into the final. The magnificent feat speaks for itself.
Bindra said he wasn't thinking of making history. He just was his usual self. His hope is that his victory will change the face of Indian sports.
There is much food for thought in what Bindra said. His victory has underscored that the best that an Indian sportsman can do is to avoid the authorities and eschew governmental patronage, which seldom comes without strings attached.
Along with Abhinav's victory India is celebrating the success of private enterprise which is thriving in India in every walk of life.
Unsurprisingly, the government officials have begun acting as if Bindra's victory is to their credit. The hard reality is yet to sink in that Bindra's achievement is almost exclusively his and his close-knit family's. His father A S Bindra, a businessman, set aside his resources for undertaking the arduous training to prepare for the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images].
His father thoughtfully converted his farmhouse into a shooting range for Abhinav.
Bindra was "cool". He reflected a self-confident generation. He represented the modern spirit of individual enterprise. Yet, he exuded the spirit of an ancient civilization which placed primacy on devotion to karma with a complete sense of fortitude. India energises itself through Abhinav Bindra's [Images] victory.
Photographs: Getty Images
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