| Abhinav Bindra |
Chandigarh: Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medal-winner in the Olympics (Beijing, 2008), has started preparations for the next “big event” — the 2014 World Championships.
The meet is supposed to be held next September in Madrid, but may get relocated.
For now, Abhinav is focusing on fitness and is working out at home with Tina Hense, who is based in Dortmund. She’s an expert in pilates. There’s also a physio-cum-trainer from Mumbai, who is pushing him hard.
On an average, Abhinav is working on fitness for six hours every day.
During the break for lunch on Wednesday, Abhinav spoke to The Telegraph at his opulent Bindra Farms residence on the Zirakpur-Patiala Road.
By the way, dessert came in the form of kesar kulfi, but Abhinav looked the other way. “I’ve just started on a new diet and sweets are a strict no-no,” he said.
Abhinav settled for coffee in a dining area that’s all his own.
Our conversation turned to two 40-year-olds, both champions: Sachin Tendulkar, who was 16 when he made his Test debut in November 1989; Leander Paes, who was 17 when he won the Wimbledon junior title in July 1990.
Abhinav, who will soon be 31, spoke about both with considerable affection.
On the performance factor: At the end of the day, performance should dictate selection. Sure, you could have a bagful of achievements, but that’s in the past. At some point, you will have to give way to others. It’s to a point only that you may bank on past performances. Sport, you know, is cruel... If you perform, you’ll be there. If you don’t, you won’t. That’s sport across the world.
On Sachin: We talk about Sachin every time that we meet! He’s 40 now and on the verge of his 200th Test... I’m sure it’s an incredibly challenging time for him... I’m no expert, but I don’t agree with those who felt he should have quit ODIs after India won the 2011 World Cup... In a way, it’s cowardly to leave after a high... Give Sachin credit for having put his reputation on the line and retired from ODIs last December, more than a year-and-a-half later... It’s easy to be satisfied and quit on a high. Yet, that means you don’t want to push yourself. It requires courage to continue even after a big achievement. Sachin took a risk and I respect him for that... Of course, it’s entirely up to him to decide when he’ll leave cricket altogether. His performances have dipped in the past couple of years, but he’s trying.
On Leander: Another big performer... To win a Grand Slam at 40 (US Open doubles) is no small achievement. If you win at a young age, people could say you’re too young. If you win at 40, there may be people saying you’re too old! It becomes a lose-lose situation... Leander probably isn’t the player he was a few years ago, but he’s accepted the challenges. The challenges at 40 are different from those at 35, just as the challenges at 35 are rather different from the ones at 30.
Finally... On both Sachin and Leander: (Smiles) Sachin and Leander have shown India how to persevere. They’ve taught us to work hard, to dream big, to give everything to realise the dreams. Both have had great highs and some difficult times, for that’s the nature of sport. That’s the way it is. However, 23-24 years on, they’re still there. You have to admire them.