5 lesser-known facts about Abhinav Bindra, only Indian to win individual gold at Olympics

Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games in the 10 m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when he achieved a near perfect 10.8 in his final shot.

Bindra remains the only one to achieve the feat and is rightfully celebrated as one of the best sportspersons India has ever produced. Here are five lesser-known facts about the champion:

Career-threatening injury

Bindra’s career at one stage was threatened by a serious back injury. He couldn’t train for months due to a spinal injury caused by ligament over-stretching in the lumbodorsal region. He underwent a rehabilitation programme that helped reduce the strain on his spine and made some technical changes to tweak his posture.

Fighting the odds

In 2014, Bindra was diagnosed with a serious neurological-medical condition, the after effects of which left his hand in complete tremors. Ironically for Bindra who pursued a sport which required his hands to be stable, the condition made it very difficult for him to continue, and more importantly excel, at shooting.

But, he was no stranger to challenges. Bindra entered into the sport as a boy with -4 power in both eyes. Like he overcame his eyesight, Bindra did the best he could with his neurological-medical condition.

Awards and accolades

Bindra has received several awards by the Government of India as recognition for his efforts in shooting. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2001 on the back of the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2000. He received the Padma Bhushan Award, the third highest civilian award in 2009 and the Honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Indian Territorial Army in 2011.

Young achiever

Abhinav Bindra was just 14 when he participated in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, making him the youngest participant in the competition. His efforts were appreciated with the Arjuna Award in 2000. In the 2001 Munich World Cup, Bindra won a bronze.

Achievements other than the Olympic Gold

The decorated shooter became the first Indian shooter to clinch a gold medal in the World Championship in Zagreb in 2006. In the same year, Bindra doubled up with another gold medal in the Pairs event in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

In 2015, Bindra won a gold medal in the 10 metre air rifle event at the Asian Air Gun Championship. He retired after narrowly missing out on a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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