Why refugee shooters scored a Perfect 10 with Abhinav Bindra

During one of his visits to the IOC headquarters, the Olympic champion wasted little time to decide that he would be part of 'Taking Refuge'.

By Naveen Peter

It was on one of his trips to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) headquarters that Indian shooting legend Abhinav Bindra came across a project that had his long-time friend Niccolo Campriani working with a bunch of novice shooters.

Learning more about it, he would get to know that the Italian was on a mission to help refugees make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics.

Since then the Abhinav Bindra has been an integral part of Niccolo Campriani’s project, even hosting them for a camp at his centre in Bengaluru last year.

“I have seen the power of sports to change lives first hand. I know it changed mine. I was really taken in by the story and more importantly by his passion for the concept,” said Abhinav Bindra speaking at a virtual media briefing at the premiere of Taking Refuge: Target Tokyo 2020 an Olympic Channel Original series documenting their journey so far.

“I even went on to interact with them at the World Archery Excellence Centre (in Lausanne, Switzerland). I was really touched by their resolve, their determination and commitment and I felt very deeply that I had to contribute to the project. I almost immediately volunteered to help in any way that I could. And one year later, here we are.” 

The Bengaluru trip

While it’s the Italian who has been training the refugee shooters -- Khaoula, Mahdi and Luna -- over the past months in Lausanne, Abhinav Bindra had the opportunity to host them at the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre in Bengaluru last year. A trip he believes was beneficial in the overall growth of the shooters.

“The primary intention was to get the shooters to come to my centre in Bengaluru and train and interact with the athletes here. It’s a group of athletes that I am proud to say are currently some of the most competitive shooters in the world,” said Abhinav Bindra.

“The athletes not only got to experience a new country and a new culture but also gave them a new perspective on training and how to navigate the pressure of the competition.

“It was a wonderful experience for all of us to have them in India and I am sure that it will reflect in the episode as well.”

While the Niccolo Campriani-trained shooters are building towards the Games in Tokyo, Abhinav Bindra hoped that Olympians from different disciplines would take a leaf from the project and step ahead to kick-start something similar.

“Our journey has proved, time and time again, that sports has the power to unite people. And Nico and I are both excited what lies ahead,” he said.

We really hope that this project will touch the lives of many more in the world. Nicco, from the beginning, has always told me that he envisions this project to be taken forward by more Olympic champions and fellow athletes as they take on more refugees to be a part of the project.

“For the next steps, we are already actively looking to interact with athletes that are interested in taking the project forward, whatever the sport may be,” he added.

“We will be glad to lend our expertise and share our insights that we have learned along the way to ensure those who do pick up the project will be able to hit the ground running.”

The series is now available on Olympic Channel.