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I’d Like to Use the Washroom: Abhinav Bindra’s Priceless Reaction After Winning Olympic Gold



Starring: Abhinav Bindra.

Release Date: 11.08.2008.

At a theatre in Beijing, China.

11th August 2008. Where were you?

I was in the middle of a buzzing newsroom of the TV network I’d joined just a year back, and working on my first Olympic Games. Beijing 2008. Abhinav Bindra, who’d been robbed off an Olympic medal in Athens in 2004, thanks to dodgy wooden flooring, shot a near perfect 10.8 in his final shot of the Men’s 10m Air Rifle event. Then 25-years-old, Bindra knew it was an Olympic medal, yes, but was unsure of its colour. For those of us watching the scores on TV knew what had happened.

The newsfloor went berserk that morning. Partially due to a combination of disbelief, pride, joy and excitement, and partially due to the fact that a job had to be done, and it was time to get into Breaking News mode. Bindra had just become the first individual athlete of independent India to win an Olympic medal.

As I rushed down to our Production Control Room to dial phone numbers of experts and guests to comment on Bindra’s achievement, my hands trembled for some reason. And it wasn’t the pressure of live news. Our correspondent in Beijing, who was at the shooting hall the moment it happened, found it difficult to hold her tears back, when patched a phoneline on-air to tell us what the mood around her was like. On the screen, there were visuals of the tri-colour going up, as Bindra looked calm and composed like nothing had happened. He had made a fist pump earlier, and hugged Gabby, his coach, with a grin and a sense of relief on his face. But that was about it.

The biggest anti-climax though was saved for the moment the journalists gathered around Bindra the moment he was out of the range for his first reaction after having made history. “It’s alright I suppose,” he said, with the littlest sense of joy or excitement that was possible, in his voice, “I think I’d like to use the washroom.” If that was how Abhinav Bindra felt just an
hour after his Olympic gold, you can only imagine his attachment to it now, ten years on.

But for Bindra it had always been the journey to gold that counted more, and what he treasures till date, rather than the medal itself. Yes, there’s a special place for that gleaming medal and his rifle from Beijing at his home in Zirakpur. Its sight leaves everyone barring Bindra mesmerised. It’s something he may’ve well stored anywhere else and it wouldn’t have mattered. “Oh come on, Beijing is history,” he says in a nonchalant way that only he is capable of. “We have to talk about something else!” is his standard response when asked about 2008, which is even now.

Now, when he has retired as a professional shooter. Now, when he juggles roles like overlooking his high-performance centre in Chandigarh and that of being a member of the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee. Now, when he looks his strictest best in his sharp suits and salt and pepper hair, but can still crack you up with his sarcasm and wit. Bindra will always be asked about 11th of August 2008. Of course. While he waits for company in his Gold Club.

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