Olympics-Train to be perfect on an imperfect day, pioneer Bindra tells Indian shooters

FILE PHOTO: India's Abhinav Bindra, winner of the men's 10m air rifle shooting event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, July 25, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra has told the country's Paris-bound shooters to embrace the pressure they will face at the Games, and to train themselves to be perfect on what will most likely be an imperfect day.

India are sending their largest Olympic shooting contingent to the July 26 to Aug. 11 Games having secured 19 quota places across rifle, pistol and shotgun disciplines for Paris.

The national federation hopes the numbers will translate into podium places and last month invited Bindra, India's first individual Olympic gold medallist, to share his experiences of competing in five Games.

While some suggest treating the Olympics as just another competition in order to avoid any additional pressure Bindra said athletes must face reality.

"Reality is - it's not just another competition because the platform is the greatest, and most glorified platform in sport," Bindra told Reuters in an interview.

"The difference is the expectations that an athlete has to confront, the internal expectations as well as the external expectations.

"You cannot run away from it. You have to learn to embrace it. Once you accept it, you'll have the best chance to work around it.

"If you resist it, and try and run away from it, it will hit you at some point."

From getting his brain mapped to drinking yak's milk and undergoing commando training, Bindra did everything he believed would help him improve as a shooter.

The former world champion even had his shoes soled with rubber from Ferrari tyres as he thought it would help him avoid slipping.

That relentless quest for perfection saw him win India's first individual Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games where he won the 10m air rifle event.

Bindra said he was "obsessed" with shooting but would not offer up his unorthodox methods as a template for India's latest crop of sharp shooters.

His advice? Train hard and expect the unexpected.

"Chasing perfection is like chasing an untameable beast," the 41-year-old said. "What all leading athletes do is learn to be perfect on the imperfect day.

"Many times athletes want to feel in a particular way, they want to be in a particular way, and then they do well.

"But what if that feeling doesn't come on that day?

"If you think that you will just wake up and walk out to the range and it'll be an easy day and you'll win a medal, it may happen but ... chances are very less."

After winning a silver and bronze at London 2012, Indian shooters drew a blank in Rio and Tokyo but Bindra has high hopes for Paris.

"All of them are capable of doing well," he said.

"It really boils down to how they can pull themselves together on that particular stage, on that particular platform, on that particular day."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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