India's only individual Olympic Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra yesterday announced his retirement ending a glorious era in Indian shooting. Despite losing out on a medal by a whisker at Rio, Bindra said it gave him “a great closure”, and decided to “hand over the baton to the younger generation”.
In his farewell organised by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Bindra said, "It is an emotional day for me”.
In a glorious career spanning more than a decade and a half, Abhinav Bindra had kept the Indian flag flying in the shooting arena. Starting his Olympic journey at Sydney 2000, Bindra entered the final in three Olympics including Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 before Rio 2016.
Bindra had the honor of being India's only individual Olympic Gold medalist when he won the 10m air rifle event at the Beijing Games – 1 of only 3 medals for India at the event. India's greatest Olympian had a shot at another medal in the same event at Rio 2016 but missed out on it by a whisker when he lost the tie-break and ended in fourth place. But he insisted that the finish had given him the closure.
"I came fourth in Rio and now retiring after playing for two decades. In Rio, I didn't win a medal and stood fourth but it gave me a great closure," he said, reported ANI.
Bindra also expressed his gratitude to the NRAI saying, "NRAI has supported the shooters. I want to thank NRAI. Under President Raninder Singh the sport has improved by leaps and bounds.”
"I have always believed in working hard. There is no substitute to hard work. I have given my all shooting and have got even more. Thank you once again everyone," he added.
President of NRAI Raninder Singh said, "The devotion, the focus with which Abhinav Bindra trains, is an example for everyone.”
However, the Olympian will continue to impact Indian shooting as he has been tasked with chairing the review committee formulated by the NRAI to "examine and identify in a cold and ruthless manner" the reason for India's debacle at the shooting range in the Rio Olympic Games, reported ANI.