What's the story?
India's ace Pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat feels that India is a 'step ahead' of its competitors in shooting and also says that the 'attitude and aggressive' behaviour of the younger shooters in the team keeps the senior ones on their toes.
Rahi Jeevan Sarnobat specializes in the 25-meter pistol event. The Kolhapur-born shooter won two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Rahi created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at an Asiad when she won the yellow metal at the 2018 edition in Jakarta Palembang.
The 29-year-old also became the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup. She won it in 25-meter pistol at the 2013 edition in South Korea and repeated the feat at the 2019 edition in Munich, Germany by winning the yellow metal in the same event.
Sarnobat is the first Indian to qualify for the 25 meters sports pistol event at the Olympics. She first qualified for the quadrennial extravaganza at the 2012 London Olympics.
The heart of the matter
Rahi's gold at the ISSF World Cup in Germany last year helped her secure a berth at Tokyo Olympics 2020. The experienced shooter has been preparing for the quadrangular event since 2017.
The Asian Games gold medallist, who had missed out on the 2016 Rio Olympics due to an injury, is confident of the Indian contingent for the 2020 edition.
Speaking on the Olympics, she told TOI:
“I have the experience of being there and not being there. I know how it feels in both the situations. I have been confident of this Olympics since 2017 and I don’t have any doubts about it. You cannot tell your mind that this (going to Olympics) is normal a few months before the Olympics. I have integrated this in my system — that I am going to Tokyo — since 2017.”
Speaking on the sidelines of a conditioning camp at JSW’s Inspire Institute of Sports, Rahi added:
"My preparation started in 2017. In 2012, I made the mistake of starting my preparation after getting my place confirmed for the Olympics. I am now experienced and the excitement is under control. This time, I convinced myself that I will be going to Tokyo and chalked out my plan in 2017."
Indian shooters had a fantastic 2019 as they topped the medals tally in each of the four World Cups, thereby helping the nation finish as number 1 at the end of the year. A confident Sarnobat also added that shooting powerhouses like China, South Korea, and Japan are no longer a threat to them. Speaking on the changing times, the 25-metre pistol specialist said:
"Honesty, we are a bigger competition to them now. They are far away (from being the best). We have to start saying this as we have given them importance for many years now. Looking at our performances, we will have to come out of it. I am sure we are a step ahead of them. We have to believe this."
Rahi also praised the highly talented youngsters in the Indian shooting team, saying that there is a reverse learning process going on in the camp.
"When I was a junior, I used to turn to my seniors to seek their opinion and guidance. These guys (juniors in the team) are so confident that they don’t need us. On the contrary, we need them because of their attitude and aggressive behavior in general. It helps them in their game and that keeps us on our toes. We were never aggressive, but I will have to be now if I have to compete with them," Rahi said, showering praises for the young guns.
The Indian shooting contingent indeed looks promising at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. After a disappointing show in the 2016 edition, Rahi Sarnobat and Co. will look to make India proud by winning multiple medals in the sport at the 2020 edition.