Shooting star's golden tryst

Shooting star's golden tryst

Bindra, Dravid reminisce on life, success and endless struggle for perfection

starry night: Cricketer Rahul Dravid and athlete Ashwini Nachappa at the launch of 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s book ‘A Shot At  History’ in Bangalore on Monday. dh photo

His struggle to achieve that goal, that all-consuming passion, has been captured in a book co-authored with well-known sports writer Rohit Brijnath. ‘A Shot At History -- My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold’ was released in New Delhi a couple of days ago and on Monday, it was Bangalore’s turn to keep a date with the champion shooter who is back on track for another tilt at glory a year from now.

Joining Bindra and Brijnath on the occasion was Rahul Dravid, whose career has a few parallels with that of the sharp shooter -- mainly in the quest for perfection and excellence in their chosen sport. The former Indian captain spoke passionately about that quest as he took part in an engaging conversation on the ‘Sporting Mind’. Excerpts:

On his career:

Dravid: What I find I have in common with Abhinav is the struggle. His single-minded pursuit of excellence resonates in the book. That being the best shooter taking precedence over winning the gold. It has been a similar case with me too. When I was 16 or 17, the late Hanumant Singh gave me the book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and it had a big impact on me -- the pursuit of excellence and the chase for that perfect flight. The beauty of this book is that it captures Bindra’s pursuit of perfection.

On being in a zone:

Bindra: It’s a fantasy. For me, it’s about being in the present. When you are mentally and physically in the best shape and you are able to sustain that focus over a period of time.

Dravid: Whenever great athletes meet, this topic always comes up for discussion, you want to know if the other guy has been there, experienced it. When Abhinav and I met earlier, we discussed it, it is about being in the moment, when you don’t have one eye on the score or the pitch… It’s always a battle about about how you can stay in the present. I have been fortunate to have glimpsed and tasted it in my career.

On finding success on an imperfect day: 

Dravid: It happens sometimes when you end up with what is termed an ugly hundred. You will be wondering why you are embarrassing yourself by being here but still end up scoring a hundred. It just shows you that you don’t always have to be perfect to succeed.

Bindra: In my sport, you have to be perfect to win. When things are not working for you, you have to have a Plan B, otherwise things can fall apart. You try to be perfect but when it is not working and you have a good Plan B, you are safe.

On practice:

Bindra: For me, it is a meditative experience -- it’s pure, addictive and pleasurable. Competition is all about drama, it is hard work when I have to summon all my resources to overcome difficult situations.

Dravid: Pursuit of excellence without stress of competition, that is practice for me and I love it. My wife thinks it’s an escape from reality -- when I am at practice, I don’t have to really bother about the electricity at home! When you face 150 balls or so at the nets, it is like getting that meditative feeling that Abhinav talked about.

On the Olympic gold:

Bindra: For 15 years, I chased that dream. In Athens, I lost badly and four years later, I wanted it badly. But after I won in Beijing, it was like life had come to a standstill. I had achieved my goal and didn’t know what next to do. It took me one and a half years to get back the desire, the hunger to compete again. Change is the only constant in life and you have to adapt yourself to the changes all the time.

Dravid: It’s an intimidating prospect. In cricket, you can always come back from a failure but in an Olympic sport, you have to wait for four years for the next Olympics to come along. That is why I respect those who pursue their Olympic dreams.

On form: 

Dravid: For me, form is a state of mind. I find that when I have been able to get to that right frame of mind, I give myself the best chance to succeed. It is not that I always succeed even when I am in the best frame of mind but my best chance of succeeding comes when I am in the right frame of mind. The question people always ask is, why can’t you be in that state, why can’t you switch on. That is the challenge. There are so many factors that come into it -- like your expectations and pressure -- factors that prevent you from coming into that state of mind.

That is the constant battle a cricketer faces -- how do I get that state of mind. It is a constant journey and the joy is in that journey -- even when you have played so many matches, to try and find that magic state of mind.

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