Why Abhinav Bindra Climbed a 40 Foot Pole Before Beijing Olympics

Bindra’s insane search for perfection pushed him to climb a 40 foot high ‘pizza pole’ to conquer his fear.

2 min read
First Indian to win an individual gold at the Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/abhinav.bindra.520/photos/a.1654101974852291.1073741827.1654097788186043/1654101931518962/?type=3&amp;theater">Facebook/Abhinav Bindra</a>)

Abhinav Bindra’s insane search for perfection pushed him to climb a 40 foot high ‘pizza pole’ to conquer his “fear” ahead of the the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Then 26, Bindra went on to become the country’s first individual gold medallist at the quadrennial extravaganza. Days before he would script history, Bindra tried to conquer fear that could grip him during an Olympic final, by attempting his hand at what the German special forces normally do.

In a book titled My Olympic Journey co-authored by journalists Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose, Bindra wrote:

I had flown to Beijing from Munich. This was because a few days before leaving for the Olympics, I had decided to get out of my comfort zone and climb a pizza pole, also used by the German special forces. It is a 40-foot-high pole and becomes smaller as one nears the summit, with the platform at the peak the size of a pizza box. 

He added:

I started climbing and halfway up decided I could not go on. But this was precisely the reason for attempting the task. I had to conquer fear, fear that could grip me during an Olympic final. I was scared out of my wits even though I was hooked to safety wires. I pushed on and finally stood trembling at the top.
However, it (pizza pole) was an excellent experience as I was able to stretch the limits of my skill and endurance — something that is definitely required of an Olympic champion.
Abhinav Bindra trains ahead of the August Rio Olympics. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/abhinav.bindra.520/photos/a.1658162774446211.1073741828.1654097788186043/1681051065490715/?type=3&amp;theater">Facebook/Abhinav Bindra</a>)
Abhinav Bindra trains ahead of the August Rio Olympics. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abhinav Bindra)

As he was bracing up for the finals in 2008, Bindra said his mind went back to Athens after a poor shot in the warm-up.

Before the final began, we had five minutes to warm up to shoot the ten most important shots of our life. My first shot in the warm-up was a 4. It was a great shock, and my mind immediately went back to Athens. The first shot in the final was a 10.7, pretty close to bullseye. My experience in the previous Olympics at Athens had taught me a lot about detachment, and I drew from it. 

He added:

I did not care whether I won the gold or not. The only concern was that I shoot well at the final. And as a result, those ten shots in Beijing were probably the best shots I have ever fired in my life. Even if I had not won a medal, there would have been no regret.

While he was extremely relieved and at peace with himself after standing on top of the podium, the hullabaloo around left him drained.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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