Abhinav Bindra on his 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal: Living in the moment

Physically, I was in good shape. Mentally, it was very different. I was process-driven... No thought about the future.

“The first shot in the final was 10.7. I finished with a 10.8. India won the gold!” recalls Bindra.   -  AP

I reached Beijing about eight or nine days before the Games. I was technically very ready. Physically, I was in good shape. Mentally, it was very different. I was process driven and living in the moment. No thought about the future.

Most importantly, I had stopped questioning myself. I had taken a leap of faith. After all the intense preparation, I had to back myself.

Three days before leaving for Beijing, I did the commando training, challenging myself to the limit, in Germany. Climbing the pizza pole, I was totally out of my comfort zone. The body and mind were working together.

My first thought after that experience was, if I can do this, winning an Olympic medal should not be that difficult.

There was no fear any more. I was not attached to the outcome.

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I could look myself in the mirror and answer the question. Have I done my best? Could I have done anything more? The answer was, nothing more.

There was a huge sense of internal serenity. I was a winner in my own eyes even before the first shot in Beijing.

I shot 596 in qualification. I was in the final. I was reminded by the coach that I still had a job to do. Next 10 shots, the focus shifted. There was not much time for reflection.

The next step had been simulated. What I was going to do in the next 20-odd minutes. A plan was in place.

I did not think that someone led with 598 and I had 596. Two points’ deficit to catch up.

The only thought I had was that I had 10 shots. One shot at a time. I had to do my best.

Indeed, I was detached about the result in Beijing. But the goal of my Olympic journey was well ingrained in my system. It was soaked in my body and soul. As a 13-year-old, when I was competing, the goal was clear. Five minutes before the final, I did not need that reminder. It was about one shot. And 10 best shots in the final.

Of course, I was shocked when my gun’s alignment was awry, when I started my sighting series for the final. I quickly got it corrected. There was a mathematical calculation necessary to get it right. Again, it was being in the moment, and doing what was necessary. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

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Disbelief could have led to resistance. I had acceptance. Okay, this is happening. What do I do now?

I was awake to the situation. Do something, rather than complain.

I did and it worked. The first shot in the final was 10.7. I finished with a 10.8. India won the gold!

I had realised my childhood dream. I am grateful to so many people who had helped me in the journey. My family, coaches, support staff and so many others.

Post the gold, I was depleted of energy. I had a dream every day. I had woken up every morning in my pursuit of excellence to realise that dream. There was vacuum now. The sense of purpose was lost suddenly. It was a crisis, to a certain degree. Of course, there was immense happiness and joy.

As told to Kamesh Srinivasan