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13 August 2008

First Indian gold medalist visits OMEGA Pavilion

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Abhinav Bindra seems to understand that his life will never be quite the same. The unassuming 25-year-old shooter claimed the gold medal in the 10-metre air rifle competition and became the first Indian ever to win an individual gold medal at an Olympic Games.

Bindra’s new-found status as a sporting celebrity was evident when he arrived at the OMEGA Pavilion on the Olympic Green pursued by fans, reporters from the Indian media and members of the international sporting press.

 

He was given a tour of the Pavilion by OMEGA president Stephen Urquhart who presented him with a copy of the book Great Olympic Moments of Time and a limited edition OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra watch.

 

He visited the watchmakers’ bench and several other exhibits before signing the OMEGA guestbook, adding his name to those of other celebrities and star athletes.

 

Discussing his elevated role in the sporting world, Bindra commented that the reality of winning the gold medal was “only starting to sink in.” Asked how is family and friends in the Punjab had reacted, he said that he hasn’t had much contact with them yet. He added, “I think it’s still a bit unreal to all of us.” Has he been able to sleep? “I’ve been sleeping well enough,” he said, “but when this is all over I think I’ll be able to sleep for a week.”

 

Now that his own competition has been completed, Bindra, who describes himself as “an all-round sports buff” is happy to have the opportunity to see some of the other competitions.

 

Although the 2008 Games have marked his first trip to the Olympic medal podium, Bindra has enjoyed previous success in international competitions. He took the gold medal at the ISSF Championships in Zagreb in 2006 and was a multiple medal winner at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2006.

Given his new platform as a world-class sports ambassador, is there a message he would like to share? “Pursue your dream,” Bindra said quietly. “Just go for it.”

 

Abhinav Bindra is a quiet, modest man but his gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games guarantees that his words will resonate with more than a billion countrymen and women whose dreams he represented on the ultimate sporting stage.

 

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