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Date : 08 Apr 2019
New Delhi, India, April 8, 2019: India’s first Olympic gold medal winner in an individual sport, shooter Abhinav Bindra, is growing the sport at grassroots level across India.
Bindra, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and multiple medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, is dedicating much of his time to developing sport across Indian society, building new facilities in underprivileged communities and bringing elite sports centres to major cities through the Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
An International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission member, Bindra will take part in the International Athletes Forum that will take place from April 13-15 in Lausanne, Switzerland. All 206 National Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commissions have been invited for the first time.
“Many communities in India lack access to the basic things in life,” Bindra explained. “So we funded the construction of playing fields and provided them with basic equipment. We really wanted to make sure we give access to sport to all the young kids in these areas so they can learn valuable life lessons, do physical activities to keep them healthy and also educate both children and parents about the benefits of sport.”
Initially, Bindra’s projects were entirely self-funded, and to date he estimates he has spent close to US$500,000 of his own money on developing infrastructure across the country. He began by building new facilities, or enhancing existing structures, for sports such as football, volleyball and basketball in a series of villages in some of the poorest parts of rural India.
He has long been frustrated by the lack of access to high-quality training facilities in his country. As a result, he felt many young Indians without the means to travel abroad lacked a pathway to Olympic level.
“Training in India was always a Plan B for me, but to progress we need to make the facilities at home the Plan A for our athletes,” Bindra said.
Since then, with the help of a number of major corporate entities, the Abhinav Bindra Foundation has been able to take his vision further, creating a series of world-class sports facilities in major cities. Based on what Bindra likes to refer as STEAM – science, technology, engineering, analytics and medicine – these centres offer everything from sleep monitoring analysis to cryotherapy and can be accessed by hundreds of athletes, ranging from world medalists to wide-eyed 11-year-olds with big dreams.
“It’s really in the last couple of years that we have created some cutting-edge infrastructure. One of our facilities is in the heart of a city and it’s working closely with a hospital. So, if injury management is required, it’s right there and accessible so that athletes don’t have to travel,” he said.
The 36-year-old Bindra’s dream is to bring sports science and technology to the masses by establishing mobile centres which travel around the country.
“The whole idea is to bring accessibility of these facilities to the grassroots. I’m a strong believer that, to develop sport in India, it has to be a bottom-up approach, opening the minds of athletes and coaches from the lowest levels to the best practices in scouting, training and injury management available across the world,” Bindra added.
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