Find your own path, Bindra's mantra to success in life, sports

Find your own path, Bindra's mantra to success in life, sports

Abhinav Bindra has spoken over a thousand times on his incredible journey towards winning the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The 31-year-old shooter, India’s first individual gold medallist, once again recollected his remarkable journey on Wednesday during the GoSports Foundation’s Athletes Conclave 2013 and there was not even a smidge of boredom.

“Like most boys, I loved the idea of guns -- the power, the ‘bang-bang’ noise,” Bindra noted of his tryst with shooting. “One Sunday, as my dad was cleaning his three guns, I thought: ‘Maybe I should try shooting as a sport. At least I won’t have to run around.’ That’s how it began. So, how does a boy who is neither talented nor athletic won the Olympic gold?” Bindra started as the audience heard in rapt attention.

“There are a thousand ways to be successful, and I am nobody to tell you the way that is right for you. No one can do that. Each one of us has to find our own path, the way that works best for us. Because you know, that no matter how many people support you and help you, when you perform, you are alone,” he said.

Bindra said his tenaciousnesss, immense self-belief and hard work helped him achieve the elusive indiviual gold following the 2004 Athens Olympics failure. “It is impossible that you will win everything all the time. Even in his prime, the supreme athlete Roger Federer, did lose some matches.

“So you need to think about and prepare yourself for failure as well. Because it will come, as surely as night follows day.  2004, Athens. The Olympic Games. I had done everything I can to prepare myself. Many people believed I have had a good chance of winning the gold. I didn’t win the gold nor any medal. I come seventh.

“I wish someone had told me that winning at sport was about so much more than sport. Days later, I find out that the tile beneath my shooting position, Position No 3, was wobbly, and that everyone who shot from that position performed considerably worse than they were expected to,” he went on.

“I lost focus. I gave it up. What was the point of focusing if any arbitrary event could throw off years and years of focus and work? I lost faith in myself. More than a year later, my spirit began to stir feebly.

“I had learnt that success was a fickle mistress. I decided to pursue excellence. I focussed on every detail from my shoes to my clothes to the angles at which I stood, held my gun, and so on, I trained my body. You need to repeat something at least 10,000 times to make it a habit, I believe. This is the beginning of command, of mastery -- over your sport and your body.

“As the Beijing Olympics approached, I knew I had to plan my strategy very carefully. The enemy was within me -- mind. I needed to develop the mental strength to take pressure of the competition in my stride. I had practiced keeping a calm clear mind and reducing the voice in my head....I had trained myself to mute this voice.

“I won. And the world erupted. Months later, after a whirlwind of congratulations and celebrations, I was left feeling like an open bottle of coke. Flat, no fizz, stale,” he paused for a moment to a round of applause.

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