"I need to start from scratch again to reach the pinnacle in Rio" - Interview with Joydeep Karmakar
Arjuna Award winner Joydeep Karmakar missed the Bronze medal at London Olympics 2012 in Men’s 50m Rifle Prone event, finishing 1.9 points short of a Bronze. The shooter who started his sporting journey at the age of 7, promises a better show in Rio 2016. He was in conversation with Sportskeeda recently:
You have been nominated for the prestigious Arjuna award for your achievements. How happy are you and what has been the reaction from your friends & family?
Though I never ran after awards, getting Arjuna is surely a happy moment for me as a sportsman. Friends and family are more happy to get the news than me in fact!
’1.9′.Is that a number that will haunt you for some time or have you accepted that your fate did not have that bronze medal in store for you in 2012?
London Olympics is over! My match and everything associated with it is history now. It was a part of journey and I enjoyed every part which was associated with it, including the pain of coming 4th! If I’m not able to win a medal, whether it be ill fate or not, I take the whole responsibility.
It is a remarkable and indeed an unprecedented achievement for an Indian to finish at no.4 from a huge field of 55 shooters in the 50m Rifle Prone. What were your thoughts going into these games at London 2012?
My coach would have been happy to see me finish in the top 15, but we were preparing for more actually! I knew the prone field will be immensely strong, particularly when India doesn’t really have a great history in this event (earlier sometimes the prone event was dropped from priority list as it was least likely for India to win something in it). Apart from the technical aspect, it was the strong mental approch which I think made it possible for me to get a 4th finish in London.
Your journey began right when your uncle presented you with a toy gun when you were a kid. How difficult has been that journey for Joydeep Karmakar to reach where he is now?
Yes, it started when I was 7 and I was in a club by the age of 10! At that juncture it wasn’t really a career option or anything, just a dear hobby which turned into passion in less than 2 years. I got serious and prepared for competitions. At 14, I was Junior National record holder and won a Bronze medal in Senior open sight rifle! The more I got involved, the more struggle I had to face to achieve my dream.
Do you think younger shooters these days have things a little easier or are things the same?
The facilities are surely on an upward trend but the competetive nature of the sport is ever escalating! I think a robust second line of coaches is needed to make the plans and preparation more guided and meaningful.
And now there is talk of setting up of a standard shooting range on the outskirts of Kolkata. Happy news for the upcoming generations of shooters from Bengal and nearby states?
I think it’s in a very nascent stage to discuss about! But I think if Bengal bids for the National Games, the chances will be more concrete. There’s a huge pool of talent in Bengal which needs to be nurtured soon enough before we lose them. I believe that the people concerned about it are working for us.
Mental fitness is something that shooters have to constantly work on. What has been your fitness mantra?
I’ve never been into conventional methods to deal with my mental faculty. Visualization has helped me a lot from my childhood and I still get immense boost from it. Breathing control and focus control amidst chaotic situation is also one exercise which helped me.
So what’s next for shooter Joydeep Karmakar? Are your eyes already set on a medal in Rio 2016 Olympics or will you be taking it one tournament at a time?
I’ll rather do it in steps. Of course all path lead to the Olympics, but dealing individual competitions with utmost diligence is the need of the moment. Everybody has to remember one thing, that London is over and I need to start from scratch again to reach the pinnacle in Rio, and it won’t be easy as the stakes are high this time! The preparation will be of a different dimension and scale this time.
You have visited our Facebook page for the 2012 games and also the newly created one for the 2016 Olympics. Happy to see more and more people in India getting involved and cheering our Olympians in what is perceived to be a cricket crazy nation?
India and her society is incredible in its own charm and character, and cricket is almost a religion as all wish to see India win. The other (Olympic) sports have an uphill task as they have to compete with more than 100 countries. But support for the Olympic athletes this time in London was overwhelming. 6 medals and few promising finishes have shown that we are not the backbenchers any more. I’m sure the supporters and athletes will go hand in hand to soar higher in the Olympic ladder.
Finally, a message for your fans and also for any budding Olympics aspirants who might be reading?
Nothing is easy, and they are never meant to be! The higher the dream, the responsibly is tougher. An ordinary athlete can do wonders if he/she doesn’t have the fear of failure! You don’t need the courage to win, but constant perseverance and utmost dedication added with belief in oneself which can turn disastrous moments to historical triumph. A stoic mind can conquer anything!