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Tokyo Olympics 2020: 'Hype around many Indian athletes is very real'

Even before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, there is already much for India to be proud of and, in many ways, one could witness our best-ever performance at the Games, Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra has said.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Exclusive Interview with Abhinav Bindra
New Delhi, First Published Jul 20, 2021, 1:36 PM IST
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Even before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, there is already much for India to be proud of and, in many ways, one could witness our best-ever performance at the Games, Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra has said.

Speaking exclusively to Asianet News, Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics, said: "As a fan, I remain very hopeful going into these Games. The hype around many of our athletes is not just hype. I think it is very real because never before in our history have we had so many athletes going into an Olympics starting out as world number 1s and world number 2s or as favourites. It has never happened in our history. We should be very proud of that. We should celebrate it as a huge achievement." 

"The young (shooter) Saurabh Choudhary appears on the Time magazine as among the athletes to watch out for. It has not happened in our history ever. So, there's a lot to be proud of already. This gives me hope that this Olympics will be a historic one for India. It will, perhaps, start a new era in Indian sport. I am hopeful that this could be our best ever Olympics performance, and it should include multiple Gold medals as well."

Bindra, who was part of the task force was set up under the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Rio Olympics, said that athletes participating in the Games amid the Coronavirus pandemic need to show adaptability.

"The most resilient population in the world are athletes. Athletes require a great amount of adaptability to perform at the top level. Overcoming the pandemic requires a great amount of adaptability. We going into the Games will again require adaptability. These Games are going to be like never before. These are very special Games being held in very special circumstances. There will be an inconvenience, but there is no choice but to follow them. Just be flexible in mind and be adaptable," he said. 

Abhinav also spoke at length about how the overall mindset of Indian athletes has changed over the years.

He said, "Our young boys and girls aspire much higher. They have this belief that they can win. They don't just want to compete in the Olympics to attend and be Olympians, but they want to become Olympic champions. That change of mindset has been extraordinary. the attitude, the fearlessness, the courage, the professionalism and the hard work that athletes of this generation display are exemplary."

Talking about the prospects of the Indian shooting contingent, "Our (shooting) team in Tokyo is the best-prepared team going into Tokyo. Considering the number of resources that have been spent on the Indian shooting team, I don't think any other team or country on the planet has spent that much on not just the athletes but also on all the people involved. The Indian shooting team has displayed professionalism and work ethics. They have plenty to be proud of. They should just be focussed on the process and execution of their skills."

On whether the decision to have two flag-bearers in the Indian Olympics squad was a strong message on gender equality, Bindra said, "Olympic movement has been a flag-bearer for gender equality. It is really showing the world a way forward. I think Tokyo has not achieved 100 per cent gender equality. The Paris Games will achieve parity. Giving every nation to have the possibility to have a woman and a man enter the Olympics stadium is a wonderful message." 

"The Olympics is much more than just a sporting competition. The real power of the Olympic games is not about winning those medals. The real power of the Olympic Games is how it unites people, how the world comes together for a period of two weeks. The Olympics Games Village is now a unique place on the planet. You have people from 206 countries and one Olympics Refugees team living together in peace and harmony with a spirit of friendship yet competing in a very intense competition. It certainly is a very unifying message," he added. 

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