Commonwealth Games 2018: 10 things you didn't know about Jitu Rai, India's latest Gold medallist
India's golden run in shooting continued at the Gold Coast in Australia as Jitu Rai won in the Men's 10m Air Pistol event on Monday morning.
This win for the 30-year-old Rai is the second consecutive gold medal showing at the Commonwealth Games after his win in the 50m pistol event at the Glasgow Games in 2014. He had failed to qualify for the 10m Air Pistol event in the 2014 edition of the Games. Rai shot a score of 235.1 in the final as he beat Australian Kerry Bell and fellow Indian Om Prakash Mitharwal, who won the bronze medal with a score of 214.3.
We take a look at some of the interesting things about the life of the man of the moment, Jitu Rai.
#1 Jitu is of Nepali origin
Rai was born in the Sankhuwa Sabha district of Nepal in a village that was situated in the middle of a forest. After growing up, he migrated to India along with his family and became an Indian citizen.
#2 Life was tough for young Jitu in Nepal
Jitu belonged to a middle-class family and he was born and brought up in the forest village in Sankhuwa Sabha. His father was a farmer and Jitu had to learn the tricks of the trade early on in his life. He was the fourth amongst five siblings.
#3 His father's death prompted him to join the Indian Army
The Rai family had moved to India in search of a better life after their hardships in the jungles of Nepal. However, just a few years later, his father passed away and young Jitu was thrust into a position of responsibility towards his family. He decided to join the Indian Army and became a part of the 11 Gorkha Rifles regiment.
#4 Initially, Jitu was not interested in shooting
After joining the Army, Jitu did not display a keen interest in shooting. However, that soon changed after his Army coach GR Garbaraj Rai made them go through the hard training regime for marksmen. The first gun that Jitu eventually used was a 9mm pistol.
#5 Early setback in the Army team led to his improvement
Jitu was sent to the Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow but was not selected in the Army team which was a big disappointment for him. This led to Rai, working ever so hard to improve his skills in the 10m Air Pistol event.
#6 Started free pistol shooting only in 2013
After the Army team debacle, Jitu was entirely focused on improving his skill set and began training very hard. He decided to start shooting the free pistol in 2013 and won a quota in free pistol in the next year.
#7 Rai's dislikes for rivals led to him taking up a pistol
Rai developed an aversion to competitive rifle shooting due to the cumbersome detailing needed for the event in terms of the kit, the heavy rifle and the stand in addition to that. He decided to pursue the pistol despite it being difficult to master in terms of accuracy compared to a rifle.
#8 Won the silver medal in ISSF World Cup debut
Jitu competed in his maiden ISSF World Cup in Munich in 2014 and was part of the 10m Air Pistol event. He ended up winning the silver medal in the event that kickstarted a good year as he won a gold and silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Maribor the same year. He became the first Indian to win two medals at a single World Cup for India.
#9 Made record-breaking debut at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
Rai featured in his first Commonwealth Games back in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland and clinched the gold in his debut in the 50m pistol event. He scored a CWG record 562 points in the qualification round and then won gold with 194.1 points, another CWG record.
#10 Khel Ratna in 2016
Jitu continued his good form in 2014 adding another Gold medal in the 50m pistol event at the Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea. He also won the bronze medal in the 10m Air pistol event in Incheon. In 2015, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award for his achievements.
He went on to add another ISSF World Cup silver medal in Azerbaijan and qualified for the Rio Olympics, where he had a disappointing showing compared to his usual standards. For his achievements in the sport and the laurels achieved in his career, the Government of India felicitated him with the highest sporting award in the country, the Khel Ratna in 2016 alongside other Rio Olympics heroes like PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, and Dipa Karmakar.