Abhinav’s feat is biggest reward for me: coach Dhillon

August 12th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, Aug 12 (IANS) He was very short-tempered and easily lost his cool on losing even a single point. This is not a trait one would associate with the calm and collected shooter Abhinav Bindra who won India’s first individual gold medal at the Olympics. Bindra was just 13 when he went to train under ace shooter Lt. Col (Retd) Jagir Singh Dhillon, who remembers Bindra as a short-tempered but shy and dedicated teenager. And the coach says he has no words to express his joy at Bindra’s Olympic success.

“This is the biggest reward for me that my student has won the first Olympics gold for India after a long hiatus of 28 years. I cannot express the importance of this moment in words,” said Dhillon, who has represented India in shooting at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

“My only guru mantra to Abhinav was to compete against your own self and success will follow automatically. There was no psychology of medals in my teaching and I had always instructed him to increase your previous score,” Dhillon told IANS.

The coach fondly recollects the early days of the ace shooter.

“Abhinav was just 13 when he came to me with his father on July 13, 1995. He was introduced to me by Gurmeet Sodhi, my teammate in the eighth Asian Games. But seeing his family background I was a bit apprehensive about the dedication of the young boy as the training regime for shooting is very demanding,” Dhillon said.

“A.S. Bindra told me that Abhinav is an expert at breaking empty beer bottles with his air gun, so he wanted to utilise his talent in a proper channel,” he recalled.

“But proving me wrong everyday, he came five minutes before the scheduled time and sweated hard under the sweltering sun as I had an open shooting range to give training in the courtyard of my house in Chandigarh.”

Within a few months of training, Bindra won his first district level tournament. And then there was no looking back for the Chandigarh boy.

Motivating Bindra was the biggest challenge for Dhillon.

“In the initial days of training, Abhinav was very short-tempered and easily lost his cool on losing even a single point. He threw his rifle away and started shouting that I would not learn shooting anymore. But gradually, he learnt to hold his nerves and came out as an immaculate finisher.”

Even his father supported him and provided him world class facilities and equipment here, said Dhillon.

“Abhinav was an introvert and a good listener. He believes in speaking less and listening more. He did not have any bad habit like drinking or smoking to distract him. Very punctual and dedicated, he always followed his time-table. Now the sky is the limit for him and he will certainly achieve many more milestones in the years to come,” Dhillon said.

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