Khelo India Youth Games 2020: West Bengal's Ayushi Podder set to chase Olympic dream after clinching gold
- The young gun from West Bengal has been touted as the next big thing in Indian shooting.
What's the story?
19-year-old Ayushi Podder and Amartya Mukherjee clinched the gold medal at KIYG 2020 in the Under-21 10m air rifle Mixed team event.
The young gun from West Bengal had been touted as the next big thing in Indian shooting and she is well and truly living up to the expectations. Earlier, Ayushi was lauded for winning the silver medal in 50m Rifle 3 positions team event at the 14th Asian Shooting Championship conducted in Doha in November last year.
The rising shooting sensation Podder - along with Gaayathri Nithyanandam and Sonika - first came to the limelight when she won gold with a score of 611.3 in the 50m Prone team event at the 2016 ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany.
Ayushi, who was always destined to become a shooter, also clinched the silver medal in the individual 50m Prone event at the nationals in December.
She trains under veterans and former shooters Suma Shirur and Deepali Deshpande when in the national camp.
The heart of the matter
Ayushi, who picked up shooting at the age of 13, has earned many more plaudits after her exceptional KIYG 2020 outing. A big hand in her success can be credited to her father Pankaj Podder, who is an active part of the Indian Railways Shooting team, and also trains his daughter in the sport.
The elated shooter, who hails from Sheoraphuli, shared her feelings with Khelo India after winning the gold medal, "My dream is to represent India in the Olympics; it is something that my father could not manage due to financial constraints. You may not believe it but we train together, each preparing for our own competition."
Pankaj Podder also runs the 'Bull’s Eye' academy called in Hooghly and has 12-14 shooters under his tutelage in addition to training his daughter.
A visibly ecstatic Pankaj told Khelo India, "The Olympics were never in the picture for me because I didn't have enough funds to train for it. Now, it is too late for me but Ayushi has a good chance of making it to the Games. She will be fulfilling my life-time dream."
Shooting is an expensive sport and the Podder family was unable to provide Ayushi all the equipment she required when she picked up the sport 2013. However, the Khelo India scheme came to their rescue and she is now able to practice with peace of mind and without any financial burden.
"It was quite difficult for us to procure equipment before the Khelo India scheme began, especially the 50m events which require the rifle and ammunition. But I have a decent number of sponsors now so we are good," Ayushi explained.
The father-daughter duo of Pankaj-Ayushi already have a plan in place for the 2024 Paris Olympics. West Bengal's teenage sensation is doing exceptionally well in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions women currently, which is also her main event. However, the real challenge lies in being adaptable and swiftly moving from one category to another. Ayushi must ensure that she does not lose her grip when she moves from the Junior to Senior category and completes the transition smoothly.Published 17 Jan 2020, 14:15 IST