World Cup gold-medallist shooter Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar overcame a growth spurt during lockdown which forced him to change his jacket and adjust his rifle. Tomar edged past world No. 1 Istvan Peni in the final of the New Delhi Shooting World Cup to win gold in the 50m rifle 3 position event. It was his first individual gold medal at a senior World Cup and he was the youngest Indian in history to win an individual 3 positions gold at a World Cup.
“Since coming out of the lockdown, he was shooting better with every competition,” high performance Specialist coach of the Junior Indian rifle shooting team Suma Shirur told the Olympic Channel.
Suma, a 2002 Busan Asian Games silver-medallist, was glad to see her ward Tomar overcome a particular challenge after lockdown.
“Post-lockdown, he suddenly looked bigger. I left him looking like a kid and he came out looking like an adult. Aishwary had a growth spurt during the lockdown,” said Suma.
“His old jacket wouldn’t fit him anymore. So we had to actually have a new jacket, adjust the rifle according to size. He came to Mumbai and got a new kit done. It’s always a challenge with boys at this age because their bodies are growing. To be able to deal with that aspect of their life and coming on top despite that, I’m very happy to see that,” she said.
Having turned 20 in February, Tomar is also the youngest Indian to win a shooting World Cup gold in the 3 positions event. He was the only one from India to win an individual gold in a rifle event at the New Delhi World Cup.
“He shot 1182 in the trials and then 1185 in the all-India university championships. In the World Cup, his score was not very high but scores overall were low at the (50m) 3 Position events. That’s because of the very tough outdoor conditions. It was extremely windy on that day. But hanging in there and performing the way he did showed maturity beyond his years. Coming out and winning the finals was phenomenal,” said Suma.
Indian shooters raked in a record haul of medals at the New Delhi World Cup. A total of 30 medals, including 15 gold, was their best performance at a World Cup.
Apart from being Tomar’s personal coach, Suma, a former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, also guides the junior Indian rifle shooting team. She has shaped the careers of Divyansh Singh Panwar and Tomar, as both of them progressed through the juniors and have gone on to clinch Olympic quota places for India.
Panwar won a bronze in the 10m air rifle individual event while he and Elavenil Valarivan also claimed gold in the 10m Air Rifle mixed team event. Panwar, Tomar and Deepak Kumar won the silver medal in the air rifle men’s team event. Tomar also combined with Sunidhi Chauhan to win bronze in the 50m 3P mixed team event.
“I am extremely happy for Aishwary and Divyansh, because they are the only ones who won individual medals,” said Suma.
“That is what we need, and that is what is important when you think of the Olympics. You have mixed team events but not team events at the Olympics, in the air weapon. But presently we don’t have a quota in the mixed team. Winning individual medals was very important,” she said.