Bindra: 'Proximity to a medal is both a privilege and painful'

In this revised edition of his book - 'A shot at history' - the Indian shooter paints a telling image of his struggles en route to Olympic glory.

Abhinav suffered from the occasional electrical impulses’’, more easily understood as ‘’epileptic seizures’, and had to visit multiple medical experts to keep it under check.   -  Vijay Bate

Former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra missed an Olympic
medal by an agonising margin of 0.1 point in the Rio Olympics on this day last year.

On the anniversary, the 34-year-old Abhinav who competed in five Olympics, has lined up an intriguing gift to the followers of Indian sports.

Abhinav has added two chapters to his book ‘’A shot at history’’, to capture the essence of all the untold drama that he endured in his bid to capture a second Olympic medal.

A parting medal could have been a befitting climax for a man who pursued perfection with all the energy and resources, but considering what he went through, it was a telling climax for a career in which Abhinav always placed all the emphasis on the process than the results.

Most of us knew that the fourth place in the Rio Olympics, when he lost the shoot-off for a medal after being tied, must have hurt him hard, even though he put up a brave front for the world and called it a ‘’closure’’.

What few knew was the fact that Abhinav had to visit many experts around the world in his attempt to control ‘’the occasional electrical impulses’’, more easily understood as ‘’epileptic seizures’’.

In a sport in which standing still was the mark of a champion, Abhinav had to battle with the ‘’quiver’’ for long, which only enriches his achievements with his first Commonwealth Games individual gold in 2014.

‘’It is a victory meaningful to me in ways I can’t really explain’’, he writes in the book.

He followed that up with his first Asian Games individual medal, before coming tremblingly close to a medal in the Rio Olympics.

Even during the most testing of times, Abhinav was careful with his medicines.

‘’I am desperate and yet I am very cautious. Every substance that goes into my body is very carefully checked. I know the WADA code and I deeply respect its struggle for clean sport. If something goes into my body which shouldn’t be there, I can’t blame doctors, physios, agents, parents. It will be my fault’’, writes Abhinav in the latest book, that is all set to hit the stands.

He went to Dr. Muller-Wohlfahrt in Germany to get about 15 injections of homeopathic medicine into his spine. Wohlfahrt had many famous clients, and Abhinav saw Usain Bolt twice at the clinic.

Even though he did not take the National federation into confidence,Abhinav had kept the Chairman of the ISSF medical committee, Dr. James M. Lally in the loop about his medical condition. In fact, he sought a precautionary Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for a year from May 2014 to May 2015, ‘’purely for safety purposes’’.

After considering whether to divulge it all in the book, Abhinav chose to put everything on record.

‘’I have never been scared of life or failure or challenge or people’s lazy opinions. I don’t care if people look at me differently. I only asked myself, is it worth sharing?, the answer was yes’’, he says in the book.

Being honestly brutal, more with himself than the world, Abhinav puts it in his inimitable style, without seeking sympathy or resorting to any indirect excuse.

‘’I come fourth only because I am not good enough for third’’, he writes.

With the decimal scoring in the qualification phase in the Rio Olympic cycle providing a new twist to the pursuit of medals, Abhinav recalls, how he was ‘’trying to improve on every shot by a distance smaller than a human hair’’.

Eventually, it was ironical that he lost by less than the width of a hair.

Abhinav was fascinated by the Tecnobody range of equipments in an expo
in 2016 and was quick to pack one of the portable versions, weighing about 50 kilograms, with him everywhere to strike a better body balance for competition.

‘’In the 2008 Olympic final I am tied after the ninth shot and shoot a 10.8 and win gold. Here, in 2016, I shoot a 10.0, Serhiy Kulish shoots a 10.5. No medal’’, he writes, capturing the vagaries of the sport, where four years of work are decided by a single shot.

‘’Proximity to a medal is both a privilege and painful’’, Abhinav concludes.

Rohit Brijnath who has helped Abhinav Bindra in narrating his journey has come up with superb prose, adorned by an admirable blend of substance and style, riding on nothing but simplicity and clarity.