I will make my country more proud: Akhil Sheoran after maiden ISSF World Cup gold
Akhil Sheoran's Gold in the Men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico, ensured India would finish at the top of an ISSF World Cup stage or across any ISSF competition for the very first time. He became the fourth Indian shooter in the competition to have won a first-ever ISSF World Cup medal and the third after Shahzar Rizvi and Manu Bhaker to win Gold.
Sheoran spoke to NRAI after the final, here are excerpts:
1) How does it feel to win a World Cup Medal and did you think you would win Gold?
Akhil: Yes, I was preparing for this medal and many more medals like this for a long time. I was disappointed to miss out on a Rio berth narrowly so this certainly takes care of that a little bit. Now that this has happened, it has shown me that I am working in the right direction and will continue to do so.
2) It was a quality finals field and tough conditions. Take us through the journey of the finals....how was the start, at what point did you think you will win....?
Akhil: Actually I didn't start that good. I was fifth after one series. Then I told myself that I have to do my job, focus on shooting and forget about the medal. It will come if I perform well. And then, I shot a good series and started coming up and once in my favorite standing position I was so sure that I knew I'll take this medal.
3) What are your immediate next targets?
Akhil: My next target is to perform better than this in next World Cups and not repeat the same mistakes. To become consistent with my performance. My next focus now is the World University Shooting Championship in Malaysia where I want to defend my title.
4) Any incidents today that you had to overcome and want to share....like an equipment malfunction, any loss of concentration. How did you overcome it?
Akhil: No there were no incidents today. I planned well to make sure there should be no incidents and my coach also reminded me today to check everything before, so that I am ready for anything that comes. My foreign coach Oleg was there to remind me of that.
5) How difficult were the conditions in the range today particularly in the final?
Akhil: It was quite difficult as we saw the final range was too windy because it was open all around and from the back. So one hand, the wind was blowing from the back and pushing your body making it hard to stop my Rifle at the right place. So you have to wait till the wind stops and then release the shot. And then there was the pressure to win a medal. But my colleague Anjum Moudgil, who won Silver yesterday in the same conditions, shared some experience and that helped me.
6) How has the support system been to help you reach this far today and who would you like to dedicate this medal to?
Akhil: I would like to dedicate this medal to my parents who have told me endlessly to make this dream possible and who have gone beyond their means to provide for me. Then I would like to thank my coach (Deeply Deshpande) who believed in me even when I doubted myself and has made me what I am today. And Oleg for all the support. I would like to thank my sponsor OGQ who have stood by me always and special thanks to my federation who provides us such good facilities which help us to win medals.
7) Any idols in the sport?
Akhil: I started my shooting after I saw the celebration of Abhinav Bindra's Olympic Gold medal so I wanted the same for me. I also wanted to make my country proud of me. This dedication came to heights (sic) when Gagan Narang won Bronze and the whole country was celebrating and after that, I got selected for my first international in December, 2012. These both our Indian shooting legends who have played an important role in motivating me.
Signing off: I will work harder in the future and make my country more proud.