Calcutta: Abhinav Bindra, Indias only individual gold medallist in the Olympics, spoke to The Telegraph from London on Thursday afternoon.
The 27-year-old was, as usual, calm despite being cold-shouldered by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
With the 2010 Commonwealth Games less than a year away, Bindra is training in a big way. In fact, hes in London to get sharper in the mind.
Sadly, its the NRAI which is doing its bit to distract the champion shooter.
The following are excerpts
Being overlooked for the cricket-style contracts, introduced by the NRAI, after its tie-up with the Sahara India Pariwar
I got to know about the contracts and my omission from the internet yesterday (Wednesday)... Had no idea something like that was on the cards. Nobody from the NRAI spoke to me, so how would I know?
(Laughs) Not entirely surprised, as such things keep happening in Indian sport... Its just that this one got reported and the others havent been. Obviously, deep down, I do feel it (the hurt)... However, I cant allow this episode to upset me or demotivate me... Cant allow myself to get demoralised... It would be easy to get demotivated, but Ive got to keep this aside... (After a pause) It wouldve been nice to be a part of something given to the other shooters, but I cant brood over what has happened... I guess Ive suffered the most, within, whenever Ive been outspoken... I wouldnt like this happening, too, to affect me in any way. Life moves on...
NRAI secretary Baljit Sethis comment that he wasnt considered because his expectation was too high and because hed been getting support from other quarters
What expectation? I wasnt even told about the graded contracts and (three-tier) retainerships... Who spoke to me? How can anybody say that? When Im kept in the dark, wheres the question of my having or not having a high expectation? As for support from other quarters, I do get funded by the Mittal Champions Trust, but other shooters (Ronjan Sodhi and Heena Sidhu, to name two) also benefit. Im definitely not alone.
Having been discriminated against
I really dont know what to say... I wouldve appreciated had somebody from the NRAI called and informed me that I wouldnt be considered for X or Y reasons... That wouldve been far better than getting to know of my omission from the net. I wouldve accepted the NRAIs reasoning and not made an issue.
Fifteen shooters benefiting from the tie-up between the NRAI and Sahara
Of course, Im happy for them... This is a positive step and Id like to think that my success in Beijing, last year, has played a role in this development... This will give the shooters a sense of security, which is important, and so has to be welcomed... Its nice that corporates are now looking at shooting, a discipline which used to be neglected.
His funding from the Mittal Champions Trust
Look, it helps in an athletes preparations... For example, if I need the services of a particular coach or trainer, then the Trust does the needful... It takes care of the expenses, which is very different from being paid for an endorsement or getting a retainership...
The suggestion that he didnt need a retainership as he was already earning enough from endorsements
Surely, endorsing products cant be a crime... Shooting wont take care of my bread and butter for the rest of my life and, at some point, Ive got to look at earning options... Ive been training and shooting for the better part of my life, but I wont be doing all that for all time to come... The principle at issue here is more important than whether or not Im earning from endorsements.
I dont have an agenda, dont have a vested interest... You know that... If I say something, its because somebody needs to say those things.
Sessions with Chelseas top-notch psychologist Tim Harkness
Earlier, he worked out of South Africa and Id spent around 300 hours with him in the build up to the Beijing Olympics... As part of the neuro feedback training, Id worked with him on a brain machine... I bought it recently (from Canada) and got it shipped to him... Right now, Im learning to train on it on my own, because Tims move to Chelsea has made him very busy... Its not a simple gadget... Ill be working with him till the end of the month and will then spend some time in Germany (with coach Gabriela Buhlmann). Ive based myself in London and keep travelling to Stamford Bridge (Chelseas home ground).
Finally, being selected as the first sportsperson to receive the Commonwealth Games baton, from the Queen, on October 29
Im looking forward to that event (in London).