Zorana Arunovic is a Serbian shooter who has previously has been a world champion in 10-metre air pistol. She also finished 4th in the 2012 London Olympics. Furthermore, she was adjudged as the Serbian Sportswoman Of the Year in 2010.
In an exclusive with Sportskeeda, Arunovic talks about her shooting accomplishments and her plans for the future.
Q: What inspired you to choose shooting as your career?
Zorana: I would say that it's not me who chose the sport, but the sport chose me. I was pretty restless as a kid, and staying still in one place simply was never an option. After a few years, I started to follow the footsteps of my elder sister, who was already in the national team, and that's how my story began.
I don't think I would have ever picked up this sport otherwise, but the fact my sister was already a shooter made my choice easier. Furthermore, I made extremely quick progress which kept me in this sport. The desire to make progress and improve myself still keeps me here.
Q: You just missed out on a medal in the 25-metre pistol event at the 2012 Olympics. Does that moment of just missing out on an Olympic medal still haunt you?
Zorana: Oh yes. They don't say that 4th place is the worst for absolutely nothing. Up until the Olympics, I didn't have many 4th place finishes, maybe one or two. But that 4th place and the realization that I was so close to winning my first ever Olympic medal was devastating.
After the finals, I cried for hours, and kept rewinding and replaying those last few shots in my head, and it was a mess.
The disappointment and sadness was so immense that I even thought of quitting and ending my career. It took me a few months to recover but then when I returned to the competition, I had one of the best seasons in my career that ended up with me being the runner-up at the 2013 ISSF Shooter of the Year awards.
Q: You were awarded the Serbian Sportswoman of the Year in 2010. What does this accomplishment mean to you?
Zorana: It really is one of the nicest accomplishments of my career. Being awarded by the National Olympic Committee was certainly a dream that came true and it brought me a lot of joy. One of the goals of my career is to win that award at least once more in my time as a professional sportswoman.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Zorana: Training, training and a lot more training.
Q: Sports like football and tennis have immense popularity in the world. How can we make a sport like shooting more popular among the masses?
Zorana: Shooting is actually loved by many but the problem is the negative connotation that goes with it. It's often associated with violent acts which are really not part of our sport. Our sport is very competitive, pure, clean and beautiful. I dislike the fact that it has negative propaganda surrounding it.
Q: Which particular event would you call the turning point of your career?
Zorana: I think there are two events. One is 2006 Junior European Championships where I became the European Champion and basically decided that this is the sport I am going to be excellent in.
The second was the 2010 World Championships where I became the World Champion and won the quota place for the London Olympics. Somehow in these moments, my entire career turned upside down. It was a good twist. It brought me so much joy and happiness.
Q: There are quite a lot of youngsters who wish to represent their country at the Olympics. What piece of advice would you like to give to them?
Zorana: The feeling of representing your country in any competition is the best feeling ever. It carries so much pride and joy that it's hard to explain in words. The only way to know about it is by experiencing it. And in order to experience it, you have to put in so much effort and work into things that you do on a daily basis.
So kids, do not give up, because it's the easiest thing to do. Taking easy solutions is not the route to becoming a champion. Work hard and don't give up, even when you think you have nothing left in you. There is always a spark that can light the fire in you and make you even better than you think you are.