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Interview with shooter Ayonika Paul, who is aiming to hit the bull's eye at the Commonwealth Games

Ayonika Paul
Ayonika Paul

Ayonika Paul is a young and talented 21-year-old rifle shooter who has represented India in many international tournaments. She made her mark globally in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich.

A complete all-rounder, Paul is also studying engineering in Mumbai and is equally committed to sports and academics. She has won several medals in the Juniors category over the years and today she is a serious threat in the Seniors league with her consistently excellent performances. With her fierce dedication and determination, you can trust this woman to shoot a bullet right through the competition.

Though she’s been blessed with immense talent, Paul needs assistance from her fellow Indians to represent the country internationally. Air rifle shooting requires very specialized training and equipment and this is a call for action! Let us all join hands to support Paul’s dream and bring laurels to the country.

In an exclusive interview with Ketto, Paul spoke about her journey, how she balances her time between sports and academics and what she needs to make India proud at the next Commonwealth Games.

Q: How were you introduced to this sport?

Summer holidays have always been the time to laze around and also to explore different sports and arts. I played many different sports like basketball, water-polo, skating and dancing, whereas swimming was a regular activity. However, when I heard about shooting I was thrilled because guns always fascinated me. In my first inter-school completion I scored 144 in open sight, and over time, this sport took over my mind. I could never get over it and wanted to go and shoot regularly.

Q: You are only 21 and you have achieved so much. How do you balance studies and play?

I have a good sense of time. Since I was a child, my mother would tell me that I need to first complete my studies and only then would I be allowed to go for my training. Even now that discipline works for me. Whenever I study I am fully focused, and the same applies to shooting. I carry my books during all my tournaments. I believe in quality over quantity and enjoy whatever I do every moment.

Q: Walk us through your training regimen.

4 AM: Wake up

4.15 AM-7 AM: Study

7 AM: Breakfast

7 AM-9 AM: Nap

9.15 AM: Yoga

10 AM-1 PM: Training

1.15 PM: Lunch and Rest

2.30 PM-4 PM: Training

6 PM-7.30 PM: Swimming or Gymming and Stretching

8.30 PM: Dinner

10 PM: Sleep

Ayonika Paul with her medals
Ayonika Paul with her medals

Q: How many hours a day do you have to practice?

Four and a half to five hours a day.

Q: What are the costs associated with your training?

My shooting jacket and trousers cost approximately Rs. 70,000. Shooting shoes cost Rs. 18,000. Weapons are for Rs.1,70,000. I also incur additional costs for physiotherapists and sports psychologists.

Q: How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

Abroad, the past world champions and record holders are now into coaching and they share their ideas and experiences. There is a path that they have found and they’re open to new ideas and experiments. They know how and when to peak at the right time. There is research and development on sports science, which is yet to be developed in India.

Q: How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Individual sport is still not a recognized area. It is motivating for all athletes around the world to learn that our Olympic dreams are being supported by a number of people in our country. It boosts my confidence to train harder as I can go abroad for a longer training period and play more matches and leagues, thus taking me closer to the six coveted grams of gold.

Q: Can you throw light on OGQ’s role in your life and career?

Whenever I wanted something in shooting, I asked my parents. But I realized that training under the best coaches and mental training would be too expensive. Even though I felt the need, I couldn’t ask them to fund it. OGQ has given me this opportunity. I have to walk a certain path to reach my destination and OGQ is the light to guide me along this journey. They have provided me with a sports psychologist and world-class physiotherapist, which are essential for me.

Q: What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Good planning, research and development and strong belief in our athletes.

Click here to contribute to Paul’s campaign.

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