Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 27
Abhinav Bindra, India’s only Olympics gold medallist in an individual event, can easily pass off as a life coach who loves talking about mental health.
Bindra, who won the 10m air rifle gold at Beijing 2008, knows a thing or two about the mental pressures that elite athletes face. Bindra said that athletes are under great pressure, right from dealing with failure, to difficulties in handling successes, to constant travel, which gives them little time to recover. This, said Bindra, adds up to more potential mental health triggers for athletes than for regular people.
Great chance at Tokyo
Abhinav Bindra said he expects Indian shooters to perform well at next year’s Tokyo Olympics. “I think we have never ever gone into an Olympic Games where so many of our shooters have a realistic shot at winning a medal,” Bindra said. Happy that the training camp has started, he said: “I do hope that the next step is that they get competitive in some sort of way. Even a domestic competition just to get their competitive juices flowing will be important. At Tokyo, we start as favourites in many events.”
Bindra, however, said the Covid pandemic has “opened eyes”. “Mental health on the whole is something that is stigmatised. When an athlete has a mental problem then everyone takes a step back,” Bindra today said. “But the good thing about this challenging period (pandemic) is that it has opened a lot of eyes and helped break the stigma to a certain degree. It is about educating the whole ecosystem — the coaches, the support staff, even the leadership — on this aspect.”
Even something as basic as a kind conversation helps, he said. “It is about working on creating that balance in their lives so that their wellbeing is also looked after… But at the end, it is about educating the coaches, support staff and also the leadership that runs the sports world,” he said. “Just simple things like how to have a conversation with an athlete… If not done in a proper way, it can have a deep impact on an athlete.”
“If you are not in a happy state of mind the chances of you getting good results also go down. So everything is very closely linked,” he explained.