Abhinav Bindra (born 28 September 1982) is an Indian businessman and retired professional shooter who is a World titlist and Olympian gold medalist in the 10-metre Air Rifle event. He has the co-distinction of bringing home to India its inaugural individual gold medal, from the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was also India’s first gold medal since 1980, when the Men’s Field Hockey Team won the gold. He is the inaugural Indian to have held concurrently the World and Olympic titles for the Men’s 10 metre air rifle event: 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships. Bindra also won the Gold Medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In 2014, Abhinav Bindra joined the GoSports Foundation, Bangalore as a member of their board of advisors. In collaboration with the GoSports Foundation, he will also provide support to India’s up and coming talented shooters through the Abhinav Bindra Shooting Development Programme.
In May 2016, the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) appointed Abhinav Bindra as the Goodwill Ambassador for Rio 2016 Olympics Indian Contingent.
In the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, Bindra finished 4th in the finals of the 10-metre Air Rifle Event. On 5 September 2016, Abhinav Bindra announced his retirement.
Abhinav Bindra was born into a wealthy Punjabi family. He studied at The Doon School for two years before moving to St. Stephen’s School, Chandigarh; he graduated from Stephen’s in 2000. In the Kolkata Literary Meet, Bindra said that he had to get in some sports when he was in Doon School and he took up shooting reluctantly. Later, he fell in love with the sport. His parents had an indoor shooting range installed at their home in Patiala, Punjab. His mentor was Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee who has been closely associated with him since the beginning of his career. Bhattacharjee and Lt. Col. Dhillon (who was also his first coach) were the first ones to spot potential in Abhinav. Bindra was the youngest Indian participant at the 2000 Summer Olympics. His current coach is a five-time Olympic shooter Gabriele Bhlmann from Basel, Switzerland, with whom he trained in Germany before the Olympics.
At the 2000 Olympics, a 17-year-old Bindra achieved a score of 590, placing him 11th in the qualification round, meaning he did not qualify for the finals since only the top eight competed in the finals.
Notable international performance
At 15, Abhinav Bindra was the youngest participant in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. His breakthrough, came when he won a Bronze at the 2001 Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score of 597/600. Bindra has the distinction of being the youngest member of the Indian contingent at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
He won six gold medals at various international meets in 2001.
In the 2004 Athens Olympics, he established a new Olympic record but did not medal. He scored 597 in the qualification round and placed third, preceded by Qinan Zhu (599 – new Olympic Record) and Li Jie (598). In the finals, Abhinav finished with 97.6 points, last in the field of eight, and was the only player below 100 points. His sub-par finals dropped him from third to seventh.
On 24 July 2006, Bindra became the first Indian shooter to win a World Championship gold in Zagreb. Dr. Karni Singh’s Silver in 1962 was the previous best by an Indian in a World Championship meet.
After these successes, a severe back injury incapacitated him so that he was unable to lift a rifle for a year, interrupting his preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Bindra returned to compete when titled at the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships with a score of 699.1, qualifying him for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra titled in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle event, shooting a total of 700.5. He scored 596 (fourth) in the qualifying round and out-scored all other shooters in the finals with a round of 104.5. In the finals, he started with a shot of 10.7, and all others never dipped below 10.0. Bindra was tied with Henri Hkkinen heading into his final shot. Bindra scored his highest of the finals – 10.8 while Hakkinen shot 9.7 to settle for the Bronze medal. It has been alleged that Abhinav Bindra’s gun was tampered with between the qualifying and final round of the event, though no official complaint was filed by the Indian contingent. This was India’s first individual gold medal at the Olympics, and the first gold in 28 years, since the men’s field hockey team won the gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Bindra was rewarded by various Indian state governments and private organisations for his achievement.
At the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New-Delhi, Abhinav Bindra was honoured as the national flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. He also was bestowed the honour of taking the athletes’ oath on behalf of the 6,700 participants from 71 countries and territories. Abhinav Bindra along with Gagan Narang shot in unison to set a Games record 1193 in 10m air rifle pair’s event for men to win India’s inaugural gold medal at the 19th Commonwealth Games. He brought home a silver medal in the individual event. Fellow countryman Gagan Narang shot a perfect 600 to equal his own world record in men’s 10m individual air rifle qualification, and won the Gold.
Abhinav Bindra won the Gold medal in the Men’s 10-metre Air rifle event at the 12th Asian Shooting Championships, held in Doha Qatar.
Abhinav Bindra lost in the qualification round at the 2012 London Olympics finishing in 16th place with a score of 594, though his compatriot Gagan Narang made it to the finals in 3rd place for the bronze medal, India’s inaugural medal at London 2012.
He holds a B.B.A. (Bachelor of Business Administration) from the University of Colorado, US. Bindra is the CEO of Abhinav Futuristics, the sole distributor of Walther arms in India. Abhinav has sponsorship tie-ups with Samsung, BSNL, and the Sahara Group. He is also the brand ambassador by State-run Steel Authority of India Ltd. and also a member of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Sports Committee since 2010.
HarperSport published his autobiography, A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold which he co-authored with sportswriter Rohit Brijnath in October 2011. It was formally released by Union Sports minister, Ajay Maken on 27 October 2011 at a function in New Delhi, thereafter the book went on to receive positive reviews.Harshvardhan Kapoor will essay the lead in Abhinav’s biopic for the big screen. He is the mentor and coach of air rifle shooter Pushan Jain.
Bindra has remarked that he has no talent and his only talent is that he can practise regularly, diligently and honestly. He has said that he had a dream of winning the gold medal in the district level, which was his major burning desire from the very first day he started shooting practice. Everything else was just pure greed and determination and his sheer love for the sport, including his Olympic medal. According to him, his elation at winning at the district level was far greater than winning the Olympic gold. According to him, most Indian parents do not consider sports as a profession. Bindra wants people to look at sports as a serious profession in India.
Awards and accolades
- 2000 – Arjuna award
- 2002 – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (India’s highest sports award)
- 2008 Honorary Doctorate degree (D.Litt) from SRM University
- 2009 – Padma Bhushan
- 2011 – Honorary lieutenant colonel by Indian Territorial Army
- 2018 – Blue Cross, highest shooting honour by International Shooting Sport Federation
- 2019 – Honorary Doctorate degree (DPhil) from Kaziranga University
Awards for 2008 Olympics Gold medal