Know your Indian Olympian: 10 things to know about Heena Sidhu
Heena Sidhu has been one of the brightest Indian pistol shooters for some time now. A former World No. 1 and world record holder, the 10 metre Air Pistol exponent will be aiming for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in less than six months’ time.
Here are ten things you need to know about the 26-year-old Heena Sidhu‘s achievements:
1. Heena Sidhu was born on 29th August, 1989 in Ludhiana, Punjab. It was her family’s history that imbibed a passion for guns early in her. Her father, Rajbir Sidhu had been a National level shooter himself while her uncle, Inderjit Sidhu is a professional gunsmith and owns a business in guns.
She was naturally exposed to different kinds of pistols and rifles from a young age. Under her uncle’s supervision, she would start trying her hand at the firearms.
“He would let me try them from a very young age itself – under supervision of course. But I always loved guns; I loved the bang,” Sidhu said about her uncle.
2. Heena first honed her skills right at her home. Her father set up a shooting range in the driveway of their house and it was there that she learnt the tricks. Her uncle also helped in tuning of the equipments in order to make them function at the highest level.
3. She became a practicing shooter since 2006 and her first noteworthy international medal as a junior came in 2007 when she grabbed the bronze in 10m Air Pistol at the Asian Shooting Championships.
4. Heena’s talent was rewarded with her maiden ISSF World Cup medal in 2009. As a 19-year-old, she claimed the silver that year in her pet category at the Beijing World Cup.
5. She carried her impeccable form into next year and announced herself as a serious contender with superb showings at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. In front of her home crowd, Sidhu played her part to bring home the CWG gold in Women’s 10m Air Pistol team event and followed it up with a silver medal in the individual event.
She finished the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad with a silver medal in individual category.
6. She got a chance to represent India at the Olympics for the first time in 2012 where she ended up 12th in the qualification round. But the determined shooter was able to shake it off soon and aimed for greater heights.
2013 was Heena’s most memorable career year as she won her maiden global gold medal. She hired the veteran Ukrainian coach, Anatolii Piddubnyi and it worked wonders. She was invited to participate at the Munich World Cup Final as three shooters had withdrawn.
Heena grabbed that golden opportunity with both hands and came up trumps over the reigning World Champion, Zorana Arunovic to clinch the gold with a world record final score of 203.8.
It was a historic achievement since no pistol exponent from India had won the gold at the ISSF World Cup Final before that.
7. She continued with her consistent performances by pocketing the silver medal at the 2014 World Cup in Fort Benning, USA. Subsequently, Heena also took the gold in the Asian Air Gun Championship. Her steadiness gifted her with the much-coveted World No. 1 ranking in Women’s 10m Air Pistol in April that year.
8. However, her performances suffered from inconsistency soon after that. At the 2014 Asian Games, she managed to add only the 25m Sports Pistol team bronze after returning empty-handed from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Heena bounced back to form the next year by taking the gold at the National Games in February and then annexed the titles at the Asian Air Gun Championships as well as the Asian Championships later in 2015.
9. She bagged the 2016 Rio Olympic berth immediately afterwards. With a dominating display at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi in January this year, she captured the gold medal in 10m Air Pistol along with the quota.
10. Her most recent accomplishment is a rich haul of one gold and one silver from the recently-concluded South Asian Games. She was a part of the gold medal-winning team in 10m Air Pistol while in the individual competition, she had to settle for the silver.
Few other things you might not know about Heena Sidhu:
1. Heena Sidhu has multifarious talents. She completed her graduation in dentistry and got the BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) degree in 2013.
About her switch from dentistry to full-time shooting, Heena said: “I loved guns since I was a child. I wanted to do something in sport, because I was so bored studying the whole day. I was passionate about guns, so I thought let's take up shooting as a sport or hobby.”
2. She has interests in various fields and loves sketching, painting and is also fond of music and poetry.
3. In 2013, she got married to 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning pistol shooter Ronak Pandit who now acts as her coach as well as manager.
4. In 2014, the global nutrition company, Herbalife signed up Heena as its ‘Fresh Face’ and she has been endorsing the company’s nutritional food products and personal care products since.
5. Heena is supported by the Not-for-Profit organization Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) since 2014.