Indian ace shooter Abhinav Bindra famously made the country proud in 2008 when he won the 10m air rifle event at the Beijing Olympic Games. With the win, he had become the first individual gold medalist and received plaudits and appreciation from around the world. In what was a truly remarkable performance at the biggest stage of them all, Bindra delivered when it mattered most.
With win comes great joy, but for Bindra it was all short-lived. The shooter has now disclosed plenty of his inner challenges in a frank interview with The Indian Express. It is noteworthy that Bindra has been very open about his opinions in recent times, especially with regard to the pandemic. Today, he revealed as to what his thought processes were after he had achieved his long-standing dream. He opened up further as to how he struggled to cope with his mental health as he felt ‘listless’, now that his goal was achieved and he had nothing else to look forward to.
Abhinav Bindra on facing mental health issues after Beijing win
Abhinav Bindra spoke first of the ‘irony’ of how a win made him depressed. “I had a long career in sport, had many ups and downs. It’s ironic my biggest mental crisis in life came when I actually succeeded. A lot of people talked about dealing with failure, bur for me, dealing with success was probably the hardest time in my life,” he told The Indian Express.
About his reasons for the same, Bindra said, “Up until Beijing where I had my greatest victory, I had trained for 16 years of life with a singular goal and singular obsession that I wanted to win a gold medal at Olympics. One fine day, this dream, the goal was achieved but it created a very large void in my life. I think to me that was very challenging. I was depressed and was lost. I did not know what to do with my life and what to do next. That was probably the toughest moment of my life.”
Elaborating on the importance of having goals to chase, “The beauty of having goals in life is that it drives you and when that is lost you lose a lot of meaning in life… sometimes we get lured by an equation that gold medal equals happiness. That is false and we need to reverse that equation and make it as happiness equals gold medal.” Post my victory in Beijing, I actually wanted to quit sport and move on to something else in life. I decided that I will go on a silent retreat where I wanted to find myself,” said Bindra.
Finally, on his decision to retire early, “I was at peace with my decision. I left my sport when I knew I had nothing more to give. From that day to this particular day, I have never gotten back to the shooting range,” Bindra signed off.