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'Abhinav is a toughie'

August 19, 2008

A week ago, Abhinav Bindra made a billion plus people proud by winning India's first-ever Olympic gold medal. No Indian is prouder than his mother Babli Bindra. The 56-year-old housemaker and dedicated mother got married to Dr Apjit Bindra in 1974, a union she describes as "a proper Indian arranged marriage." Her father's family, which almost owned the entire village of Gujranwala in Pakistan, was awarded the village of Chatbir near Chandigarh as compensation after Partition. This is where the Bindras live now, in a luxurious farmhouse.

Though she wears diamonds and classy chiffon salwar kameezes and likes expensive branded purses, Babli Bindra underplays her wealthy background. She argues the importance of the joint family in a child's development. Like most Indian mothers, she knows the art of balancing power within a family structure. She values the importance of wealth, but doesn't waste time in flaunting it. Her grip on her family's agenda is just perfect. She had a difficult time within the family, but stood her ground, notes Dolly Lamba, her sister-in-law. She had some difficult times with her in-laws, but took perfect care of them in their old age.

Celebrating Abhinav's Olympic gold

Babli Bindra knows her husband's family better than her husband. She stood by them because she wanted her children to learn to respect elders. The Olympic champion and his mother have a very subdued and stable relationship. Her relatives says self-control is Babli's style and perseverance is her weapon. She has a master's degree in psychology from Punjab University. Occasionally, her eyes give away glimpses of the firmness with which she pursues her goals, something that is otherwise not visible in her mild manner. She has scripted her son's Olympian triumph as much as Abhinav has.

How did she achieve her dream? Hear it from Babli Bindra herself, in a heart-to-heart chat with's Sheela Bhatt. A first-person exclusive:

Abhinav Bindra, soon after winning the gold medal in the Men's 10m Air Rifle competition, with Chinese silver medalist Zhu Qinan, left, and Finnish bronze medalist Henri Hakkanen, August 11, 2008. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

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