Shooting in India has had a rich history with players bringing laurels to the country from around the world. And yet we’re an Olympic glory starved nation.
Once every four years, a billion hopes are pinned on a handful of shooters and it is only fair to say that a lot is left to be desired.
But the last four years has seen the emergence of a new breed of shooters who have instilled the faith that medals at the Olympics can be won by India. Not just on the basis of their performances, but the composure and mental toughness that has been on display.
The first Indian shooter to win a quota for Tokyo Olympics, Anjum Moudgil is certainly a class apart from her compatriots. She’s the one who has been thriving under pressure, despite cut throat competition in India and the world.
She recalled one of the instances, where despite being unwell, she shot good one point beyond the world record at the Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Masters competition in 2019.
“I was extremely unwell and couldn’t train, in fact I couldn’t warm up for the competition. I just went to the match and tried to focus on the shooting. In the finals, I broke the world record, though it wasn’t registered, since it was a domestic competition,” Anjum told News18 Sports.
After the Tokyo 2020 Olympics got cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19, many athletes looked it as an opportunity missed to perform well for the country, while others raised concerns about not being able to peak again in the right time.
But for Anjum it was time to unwind a bit from shooting and once again prepare for the biggest sporting event.
“I was in Delhi when the lockdown was announced. Then I came back to Chandigarh. I never thought the whole lockdown would be for so long. I thought it would be just for 10-25 days, so I took an off for 10 days. So I started devoting time to painting.
“So it had been a very long time since I stayed at home. Basically I utilised my time doing things I always wanted to do, apart from shooting. In short the Covid-19 break turned out to be really positive for me.
“Peaking at the right time really matters. My Coach planned very well for me during the World Championship, it worked well. And then everything was on track for 2020. Now the postponement might have had a negative effect on some athletes, but it has only given me more time to prepare.”
The 26-year-old went on to mention that she also utilised this time to work on her physical fitness apart from the technical aspect of shooting, which is a constant part of a shooter’s career.
“I also used this time to find out areas that need some attention, and I’ve been working on that. I love physical training, so I’m just pushing myself a little harder on that part. On technical front too, my coach has been working very hard, had given me a programme, been sending me videos. So that has been going well too.”
One might be surprised to know that Anjum considers herself better at 50m rifle three positions as compared to 10m rifle event. But she has an a good reason for this.
“If we look at the medals that I have won in both the events, then perhaps I have done better in 10m air rifle than 3 position. But I still feel I’m much better and comfortable in the latter. I can say that I have a better sense of shooting in three positions 50m than in 10m. Both of the events are really different and I love doing both of them.
“Also in 10m we have better shooters in India, and there is a lot of competition, so we keep pushing ourselves to get better. Also in India, there might not be that great a competition for 50m, so that could be the reason I’m not performing that well at the moment in internationals.”
50m or 10m, expect big from this Chandigarh shooter.