The story till then
Abhinav Bindra emerged as a shooter of rare pedigree at the turn of the century. As a 17-year-old he became the youngest Indian participant at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Four years later, in Athens, he broke the world record to enter the finals, only to falter and finish last in a field of eight. His stature continued to rise internationally, though, as he became the first Indian to win a World Championship gold in 2006 and also picked up two medals at the Commonwealth Games in the same year, including a gold.
At the Beijing Olympics, Bindra delivered India's greatest moment in Olympic history by taking the gold in the 10m Air Rifle. It was India's first ever individual Olympic gold and Bindra accomplished it with a poised performance in front of a packed arena and a huge TV audience back home. He was fourth at the end of the qualifying round but with a final round of 104.5 he overcame a strong field to clinch the title. The feat sparked a wave of national celebration.
"It's the thrill of my life. That's about it. It's hard to describe. I just went for it. I knew I was lying in fourth. Thankfully it went my way and I just went for it."
- Abhinav Bindra
"The mental block that we are not good enough to get a gold will be gone. Abhinav has made us all proud and achieved India's greatest sporting success. An Olympic gold is the thing in life. Everything else comes second."
- Randhir Singh, former Indian Olympic Association secretary and international shooter
The story since
After the gold, Bindra took time off shooting to consider a career in business, but he made a comeback ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where he had to settle for silver in the individual event, behind colleague Gagan Narang, though he won gold in the pairs. He was unable to replicate his 2008 form at the 2012 Olympics, failing to reach the finals. He bounced back with gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and though he no longer competed as regularly, earned a quota for his fifth Olympics at Rio. He has announced that he will end his professional career after the Olympics.
A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold by Abhinav Bindra and Rohit Brijnath