Bindra gives Chandigarh a new high (Roundup)

August 11th, 2008 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By Jaideep Sarin and Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, Aug 11 (IANS) There was no end to rejoicing or the ringing of phone bells at the Bindra farmhouse near here, ever since Chandigarh boy Abhinav Bindra shot his way into India’s sporting history Monday morning by winning the country’s first individual gold medal in the Olympics. As TV cameramen, mediapersons, relatives, friends and many more came in hordes to greet the family, the rain gods too seemed pleased and there was a heavy downpour at Zirakpur town in Punjab, 15 km from here.

But that hardly dampened the celebratory spirits here which were drowned in rounds of ladoos and sounds of music.

“My son has proved that ‘Singh is King’ in a real sense. He has brought laurels for the whole Sikh community and for the whole nation,” said an excited father A.S. Bindra.

The shooter’s beaming mother Babli Bindra added: “I had talked to him briefly yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. He was determined to hit the bulls’ eye this time. But still I was very nervous in the morning and was keeping my fingers crossed. Now I am trying his number but he must be busy as he is not picking the phone.”

“We have not eaten anything except ladoos since morning as we did not get time to have our breakfast. Ever since the news broke that Abhinav won the first Olympics gold medal for India, all the phones at home have been ringing continuously,” Babli said.

“I had sent him an SMS in the morning, ‘Abhinav you can do it, go for it’, but I am sure he must have not seen it. On hearing the results, I was breathless and started screaming in joy,” a beaming Babli told IANS.

Abhinav’s parents had organised a special prayer meeting at the Sector 8 gurudwara here to seek blessings for the shooter and wish him good luck for the events. Hours later, the prayers were answered with his victory.

“He will return to India Aug 14 and we are going to receive him at the airport. I am anxiously waiting for that moment when I can hug him and congratulate him,” Babli added as she said that she would get the shooter, who turns 26 next month, married soon.

Like Abhinav’s last two Olympic outings, the Bindra family also planned to go to Beijing to see his performance, but they decided against it as they could not find rooms in any good hotel there.

“It has proved to be a blessing in disguise that we did not go there. I have also not talked to him for the last five days. Our presence at the venue could have put an unnecessary pressure on him and affect his performance,” said A.S. Bindra, a Punjab-based industrialist having interests in packaged food and meat products.

“Now I am just waiting for his return and then there will be a series of parties, celebrations, bursting of crackers and everything that I can do on this earth,” he said.

The Bindra farmhouse, on the Zirakpur-Patiala highway near here, wore a festive look with relatives and family friends pouring in to celebrate the occasion.

The farmhouse has an exclusive multi-million private world-class shooting range for Abhinav where the ’silent killer’ used to practise for 12-14 hours.

Abhinav’s gold haul for the country in the Beijing Olympics has not only brought laurels to the shooter but it is also raining money in plenty for him.

The Punjab government Monday announced a cash reward of Rs.10 million (Rs.1 crore) for the shooter as per its sports policy.

“We in Punjab are proud of Abhinav Bindra’s remarkable feat. We hope that his performance is a morale booster to other youngsters to do well in sports,” Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said.

The neighbouring Haryana government too announced a reward of Rs.2.5 million (Rs.25 lakh) to Abhinav for his feat and the Chandigarh administration and the Madhya Pradesh government too announced another cash reward of Rs.500,000 each for him.

Abhinav has been a shy, introvert boy but very focused on his aims, according to his parents, teachers and friends here.

“He was an all-rounder and topped in class 12 in commerce stream in the school. Though he was more dedicated to shooting, he never ignored his studies because of his stiff training schedules,” recalled Harold Carver, principal of the St. Stephen’s School, Chandigarh, where Abhinav studied.

“He was a shy and introvert boy, but very focused and disciplined to attain his aim right from the very beginning of his school days. He was a good finalist and knows how to hold his nerves in tough situations,” Carver told IANS Monday.

“I have seen him practising continuously for 12 to 14 hours a day. He was never distracted when relatives or friends visited his farmhouse. He keeps on practising alone in his shooting range. There is a proper time-table and he religiously follows it,” said K.S. Nalwa, the shooter’s cousin.

Abhinav’s childhood friend Ranjit Bajaj said: “I had hoped of a medal for Abhinav in the last two Olympics but this time we were keeping our fingers crossed. And even Abhinav went with an open mind, as he told me that he just wanted to give his best and rest depends on the god’s grace.”

The shooter managed to overcome a spinal injury that almost cost him his sports career two years back.

Along with his shooting practice, Abhinav has also managed to complete his master’s in business administration (MBA) from the University of Colorado, US. “He has also started taking interest in his father’s business and intends to join it very soon,” his mother said.

But joining the family business could well be put on hold for sometime now. A sports management firm that handles Abhinav’s affairs says that the celebrity shooter could command up to Rs 20 million ($500,000) per endorsement - an amount commanded by top Indian cricketers.

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