In a candid conversation with Siddharth Rajsekar on Masters Secrets, Padma Bhushan awardee Abhinav Bindra shares “What it Takes to Be a Champion”. Abhinav Bindra, India’s first Olympic Gold Medalist and winner of seven medals at the Commonwealth Games talks to leading digital coach Siddharth Rajsekar about what contributed to his achievements in life. He also talks about his life now and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
Siddharth commences the interview by asking Abhinav who his first coach was and what basic principles he had to follow. Abhinav reminisces the beginning of his formal shooting lesson. It took place at his first coach and former shooter, Colonel Jagir Singh Dhillon’s backyard, where under a mango tree, a shooting range was set up for Abhinav to practice. Colonel Dhillon played a very important role, very early on in his life. He taught Abhinav a life lesson that is etched in his brain forever, “The shortest way to success is hard work.” Coach Dhillon trained Abhinav not only in shooting but also imbibed him with a strong work ethic. This activated an international champion who was willing to pour his heart, soul and mind into his sporting career. Abhinav was inspired by his coach’s experience and hardships in life. At some point, during his military days, Col. Dhillon also lived with Milkha Singh therefore he always had extraordinary tales to tell and galvanize Abhinav. These values shaped the core principles that Abhinav follows even today. Abhinav, however, was a determined child, at the age of 13 when the colonel was reluctant to take him up as a student, Abhinav wrote a letter to the colonel, stating how this will be his life goal and hopefully he will be able to make him proud one day. Abhinav kept his promise and always put his best foot forward.
The interview then dives into the practice routine followed by Abhinav in his initial training days. A routine can make or break one’s path to success. A regimented routine was a big part of Abhinav’s sports career, the routine revolved either around the sport or improvising it. Even today, a routine is what keeps Abhinav afloat. As a boy, Abhinav had a normal school going routine, however, after school and lunch, he would waste no time and be on his way to train, regardless of weather and health conditions. Abhinav adds, “I have never missed training, trained for three hours minimum every day even as a 13-year-old kid”. However, schooling was not something he could compromise on and his mother was vigilant about the same. Abhinav very soon started training full time; shooting, physical exercise, recovery and so on. His normal training day started at 6 in the morning and ended only after 8 in the evening. He mentions, “Even the dreams I dreamt were about my sports career, so this was my life, 24/7”.
Siddharth then brought up the elephant in the room question, “Didn’t you ever feel like giving up?” A feeling of giving up is something that one stumbles upon from time to time in life. When a person faces hardships and challenges, strong emotions toward quitting are common. But in Abhinav’s case, he was self-motivated and was already prepared and aware of the hardships that he could come across on this journey to greatness. Abhinav’s parents or coach never forced him to do anything in life, they gave him his space to explore but at the same time, encouraged him at every stage. However, in the end, an individual is always alone, therefore gaining courage from within is vital. At the beginning of his career, his internal courage helped him stay strong, as failure is a component of any athlete’s journey. In such a scenario, one must remember that persistence is key, one must learn to let go of the baggage that comes with failure but at the same time learn from the mistakes that failures have taught you. It is then that the next stage of success is climbed. Observe and improvise on your mistakes, try to be a better person every day.
The journey to becoming a champion is actually about self-respect, at the end of the day when an individual reflects on what they have done, a feeling of self-satisfaction should resonate, knowing everything possible is done. This will make the individual a winner in their own eyes, self-validation is important despite the outcomes. To excel, a mental balance is important in any pursuit of life.
Abhinav elaborates on shooting as a sport. Shooting is considered a mind sport, which is a huge misconception. Any sport requires x amount of physical commitments and so does shooting. Staying absolutely still is a physically strenuous task, it takes the most effort for one to stay still and this is an utmost requirement of shooting. Shooting calls for a different kind of fitness. Shooting requires balance, precision, stability in movement, coordination and synchronisation of the body and mind. Shooting is a sport of calmness, but when in competition the sudden burst of adrenaline is inevitable, training the cardiovascular system is what comes into play in such a scenario. Not only shooting but any sport requires harmony between the mind and body.
Abhinav dives further deep into his mantle, sharing secrets that rarely any sportsman does. Siddharth, as the leading coach of India through his Masters Secrets show, managed to bring about enlightening content for all who aspire to do something great in life. Abhinav ends by saying, “Hardships come and go, remember the light awaits at the end of the dark tunnel.”
Abhinav is now deeply involved in his non profit organization, the Abhinav Bindra Foundation that is dedicated towards sporting excellence. By striving to ensure that the Global Best Practices are made available to all, the foundation identifies ways to educate, inspire, and help the Indian sporting eco-system accept nothing but excellence.
Siddharth Rajsekar is on a mission to create a new leadership for the new world.
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