India's star shooter Abhishek Verma says the ultimate dream for every athlete is the Olympics (Exclusive)

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Life and sports have plenty of similarities and the saying that sports teach us a lot of life lessons is true. Often, we talk about how we are too late to learn but learning requires no age, it only requires determination and the willingness to learn. Such is the story of India's pistol shooter Abhishek Verma who has his sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Abhishek Verma, an ordinary Indian boy who would go about his day as most young Indian children do. Abhishek would spend his day by indulging in sports and studies. His story took a turn at a much later stage in life after he completed his engineering. After that, he diverted his focus to government exams which helped him to grow his interest in the constitution.

His interest grew and he pursued law during which he discovered a shooting range in his city, Hisar, Haryana. As soon as Abhishek discovered that, the lawyer turned into a shooter as he enrolled himself in the shooting range the following day. His journey has been full of success from the day he started shooting.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Abhishek Verma opens up about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020, mental health and his training schedule.

Q. What difficulties did you encounter when you first started shooting, was there lack of facilities and support for shooters?

"When I started shooting in November 2014 there weren’t so many shooting ranges in the cities but now there are almost 2-3 shooting ranges in each city of Haryana. There is drastic change in the mindset of people, earlier studies were important but now parents are also emphasizing on sports. There is no state funded shooting range in Haryana where we can practice, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have their shooting range but despite more shooters being from Haryana there is no shooting range in Haryana from the state government."

Q. What is the training schedule which you follow?

"My training starts from 5:00 AM and ends with sleep at 8:30 PM. I wake up early to do yoga and meditation then I go to shooting range from 8:00 AM to 12:30 or 1:00 PM, then I take 2 hour rest and then again I do practice for two hours after which I go to the gym."

Q. You're considered as one of the medal contenders for Olympics 2020, what's your opinion about that?

"For every athlete Olympic is the ultimate dream which he/she wants to achieve in his life. I started shooting as a hobby but when I decided that I have to do shooting as a profession or that I want to do my best in full time shooting then the first thing which came to my mind was the Olympics and I prepared accordingly and now its very close to me and I am very happy that I have bagged a place in the Olympics."

Q. Getting an Olympic medal is a dream for most sportspersons. Does the pressure of this distract you?

"Of course it’s a dream of every sportsperson to win an Olympic medal and I do have the same dream and I am trying very hard to achieve that. Pressure is a part of the competition, we cannot say that the pressure isn’t there but its our attitude that how should we treat the pressure – in a positive way or negative way. Pressure will be there in Olympics so we are making our mental training schedule, we have started a meditation programme in which we are doing both physical and mental training. The mindset plays the most important role during the competition, if you’re feeling positive during the competition you can handle the pressure better."

Q. What's the mantra for the 2020 Olympics?

"My mantra for the 2020 Olympics is that you’ve to be mentally strong to handle pressure because every Indian has an eye on us and wants to see us performing and winning a medal, if we think this we’ll face the pressure but if we focus on consistent training then we can handle the pressure easily."

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Edited by A. Ayush Chatterjee
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