She is 78 years old, has six kids and fifteen grandchildren and has won more than 25 national championships in shooting. Don’t let the grey hair and the wrinkles on her face fool you, because when Chandro Tomar has a rifle in her hand, she is always on target. Chandro Tomar, regarded as the world’s oldest professional sharpshooter, hails from the Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh, India. Since taking up the sport about ten years ago, Tomar has been remarkable given her old age.
The story of how she got into shooting is an interesting one. Tomar used to accompany her grand daughter to the shooting range in Johri, UP. Bored of waiting around, Chandro decided to try out something new. So, just picked a rifle, took aim and shot the target perfectly. Farooq Pathan – the coach at the shooting range, was impressed by her ability and suggested her to come and practice regularly. Chandro who was reluctant initially, began to take the sport seriously and has never looked back since.
It was not easy for her mainly because of the fact that she is a woman. People including her relatives ridiculed her for taking up shooting. But Tomar was unperturbed by them. She learnt the nuances in shooting and began to participate in competitions. She was an outlaw of sorts in her village. But everyone was impressed when she won a number of championships. The walls of her house are filled with medals. For Chandro, one victory was the sweetest of them all. She takes pride in defeating the DIG of Police, Delhi in one of the competitions within the first two years of taking up shooting.
Farooq Pathan, Chandro Tomar’s club coach, insists that she has a natural talent for shooting. He says, “She has the ultimate skill, a steady hand and a sharp eye.” It seems like the talent runs throughout her family. Chandro’s daughter Seema is an international shooter and is the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Rifle and Pistol World Cup in 2010. Her granddaughter Neetu Solanki is also an international shooter, participating in shooting competitions in Hungary and Germany.
Talking about her mother, Seema said, “She is amazing. If she can do it then so can we. She showed us that anything is possible. She has helped so many of us improve our lives.”
Eventhough she has taken up shooting professionally, Tomar still does all the household chores and takes care of her grandchildren. She is an inspiration for the younger generation and mainly for the women in her locality. In fact she is an inspiration for us all.
Old is gold indeed.Published 14 Apr 2012, 13:44 IST