Abhinav (left) with his Kazakh coach Stanislav Lapidus
rules, Golden Bear bows out
Teenager Suresh Raina has made it to the Indian team by dint of his consistency and flair
Abhinav Bindra is training hard to hit the bull’s eye at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, writes Arvind Katyal
The Beijing Olympics are still three years away, but ace shooter Abhinav Bindra doesn’t even have a minute to spare as he is busy preparing for the ultimate competition. At 22, Abhinav is already a veteran of two Olympics. He was the youngest Indian participant at Sydney in 2000. At Athens four years later, he broke the Olympic record but failed to win a medal.
The Chandigarh boy is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a podium finish in Beijing. He is following an extensive and well-defined training schedule with the assistance of his personal coach, Stanislav Lapidus of Kazakhstan.
Lapidus, who trains Abhinav at the latter’s shooting range at Zirakpur, near Chandigarh, is preparing him for several major international events — the ISSF World Championships (Zagreb), the Asian Games (Doha), the Commonwealth Games, all scheduled to be held in 2006, and of course the Olympics. Abhinav will also be taking part in the annual ISSF World Cup tournaments. As far as the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are concerned, Lapidus wants at least one silver medal from Abhinav. For the Olympics, he has targeted the gold medal.
It was Lapidus who initiated Abhinav into small-bore rifle prone and 3 position. In this event, the coach is aiming at a score of 1160 points in 2005, 1170 in 2006, 1175 in 2007 and 1182 in the Olympic year. Lapidus is also laying stress on theoretical knowledge, shooting tactics under various conditions, different shooting positions, general physical training and yoga.
Abhinav shoots with his favourite Walther rifle for both 10-metre and 50-metre events. He admits that despite all the hard work, the final day of competition can be quite unpredictable. "Ultimately, it is the coach who guides you and points out the mistakes committed while bending, kneeling and holding a rifle," he says.
He is satisfied with what Lapidus has taught him so far and would like to make optimum use of the training in the forthcoming tournaments. Abhinav intends to practise at his farmhouse in Zirakpur for the rest of the year to gear up for a demanding 2006.
Abhinav has it in him to win a medal at the topmost level. His career graph is impressive, to say the least. He was only 12 when he won the Ropar district shooting championship. In 1996, he won the gold medal in the All-India GV Mavlankar Championship. In 1997, aged 14, he was the youngest participant in the 4th National Games at Bangalore. That year he was also selected in the national squad.
In 1998, Abhinav became the national champion in both junior and senior sections in the 10-metre air rifle event. He also participated in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. During this period, he performed well with the help of coach Lt-Col JS Dhillon (retd) and mental trainer Amit Bhattacharjee.
In 2000, he shot 596/600 to break the world record in the air rifle event at the World Cup in Munich. At the Sydney Olympics, he scored 590/600 to finish 11th.
The Arjuna Award deservedly came his way in 2001. Next year, he helped India in winning the gold medal in the team event in the 10-metre air rifle shooting at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. He was also honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
At the Athens Olympics, Abhinav shot 597/600 to break the games record. However, he faltered in the final round and missed out on winning a medal.
This year, playing in the European circuit, he won the gold medal in the Denhaag Cup with a record score of 597/600.
Abhinav’s father, Dr A.S. Bindra, a leading businessman, has supported him through thick and thin. Bindra is spending several lakhs every year not only on his son’s training, but also on his travelling, physiotherapy, shooting equipment, pellets and ammunition, specialised computer software and diet. According to him, this expenditure on an individual sportsperson may be on the higher side, but it is quite less than the huge amounts being spent on the Indian hockey team.
"Eventually, the hockey team can
at the most win only one medal in major international events like the
Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the Asiad. One shooter can also perform
this feat," says Bindra, confident that his son would be the one to
Golden Bear bows out
Flashback to the present: The 29-year-old Woods has clinched his 10th major title with an commanding victory at the British Open, and looks on course to beat Nicklaus’ world record of 18. The latter, popularly known as the Golden Bear and widely regarded as the greatest golfer of them all, had won eight major titles by the age of 30. Woods has done better than that, and if he carries on in the same vein for at least another decade, he can come on a par with Nicklaus in more ways than one.
The Golden Bear would feel
very proud if Woods breaks his record. Watching the final round of the
British Open on TV after hanging his boots, Nicklaus was amazed by Tiger’s
dominance. "He never looked like there was a chance for him to
lose. It was a pretty awesome performance," said the 65-year-old
who was himself the game’s towering figure for over
Nicklaus was 22 when he won his first major title, the 1962 US Open. His 18th and last big victory was at the US Masters in 1986, when he came back from a four-stroke deficit to beat Greg Norman.
The big question is: Can
Woods rule the roost that long? He has definitely regained his winning
ways after a two-year lean spell during which he didn’t claim any of
the four majors and saw his record 264-week run at the top ended by
Vijay Singh. (Woods reclaimed the number one spot
It has been a great 2005 for Woods so
far, with victory at the US Masters and runner-up finish behind Michael
Campbell at the US Open. His much-talked-about swing change has done him
a world of good, silencing all those who criticised this move. Moreover,
he has widened the gap between himself and other members of the
so-called Big Four of golf — Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil
Mickelson. It’s the Big One for now. If form and fitness don’t
desert him in the years to come, the grand farewell in 2040 may become a
IN THE NEWS
Promising Uttar Pradesh batsman Suresh Raina has been justly rewarded by the selectors for his superb performances in the past two years. He was an integral part of the Indian team during the Under-19 World Cup last year. Though India lost in the semifinal to Pakistan, Raina made his presence felt throughout the tournament. The 18-year-old scored a breezy 90 off only 38 balls against Scotland. Against the West Indies, he scored 66 runs under pressure and took two wickets with his right-arm off breaks to bag the man of the match award.
Raina was one of the four Indian juniors — the other three being Shikhar Dhawan, Azhar Bilkhia and Venugopal Rao — who trained at the Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence in Brisbane (Australia) in 2004 under the Border-Gavaskar scholarship.
It was an unforgettable experience for him as he got to face the deliveries of Australian speedsters like Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee.
The Ghaziabad boy began his cricket innings in 1999 at the Sports College in Lucknow. He was coached by Deepak Sharma from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. After leading the under-16 Uttar Pradesh team, he was selected for the Indian under-19 team.
The tri-series in Sri Lanka will be a litmus test for him, and going by his talent and confidence, he should pass it with flying colours.
Breaking the pole vault world record has become a habit with Yelena Isinbayeva. She has done it 15 times, the last two in less than a fortnight. What she needs is a new challenge — becoming the first woman to clear five metres.
The 23-year-old Russian vaulted 4.95 metres in Madrid last week to surpass her own mark of 4.93 set at Lausanne earlier this month. It was a triumphant return to Madrid for the former gymnast who set her world indoor record of 4.92 in the Spanish capital in March this year.
According to her, the first woman who crosses the five-metre mark would be considered the female Sergei Bubka, even though she is already regarded as such. "The woman who jumps this height first will be a legend," she says. "Five metres for women is the same as six metres for men."
Olympic champion Isinbayeva, the Female World Athlete of the Year for 2004, has another target — to cross Ukrainian Bubka’s world record total of 35. The latter, now 41, was a six-time world champion. He crossed the six-metre mark 43 times in his career and broke his own world record with monotonous regularity. He holds the records for both indoor (6.14) and outdoor (6.15).
The world championships in Helsinki next month would be the ideal stage for Isinbayeva to have a shot at five metres. She might fail to do it by a whisker, but nobody would be surprised if another world record gets shattered. — Agencies
Give Bhupathi his due
Mahesh Bhupathi, India’s most successful tennis player, should be given more recognition for his achievements. He is the winner of eight Grand Slam titles, including the recent mixed doubles crown at Wimbledon. It is unfair that there is euphoria in the country when Sania Mirza enters the second round of a tournament, but the feats of Bhupathi do not cause much excitement.
Dr Sachin Kaushal
Congratulations to Brazil for majestically winning the Confederations Cup soccer. They drubbed arch-rivals Argentina 4-1 to register their biggest win over their opponents in 37 years. They not only avenged their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Argentina in a World Cup qualifier a few weeks ago but also became only the second nation after France to hold three top FIFA titles — the World Cup, Copa America and the Confederations Cup — at the same time. The final, played at a breathtaking pace, turned out to be a grand finale to a superb tournament which produced 56 goals in 16 matches.
Playing fast, attacking and vintage football, Brazil dominated the final right from the word go. They scored at will and were simply too good to be withstood. Argentina played second fiddle and failed to live up to their tag of favourites, allowing the reigning World Cup champions to carve out a facile victory.
Tarsem S. Bumrah
Bangladesh’s historic victory over world champions Australian was a much-needed morale booster for the beleaguered team. Kudos to Bangladesh for taking their critics by surprise. It showed once again that cricket is an unpredictable game and a great leveller.