Battling challenges of life, Asiad silver medallist Rajput seeks job
By Bharat Sharma
Palembang, Aug 21 (PTI) Taking in his stride the challenges life had thrown at him, Sanjeev Rajput says the ability to cut off from his personal battles while shooting has helped him land two major medals in the last six months.
Life has not been the same for Rajput ever since a fellow shooter filed a rape case against him in December 2016, a charge he denies. Shooting is mainly a mental sport and the court case affected him immensely in the initial stages but not anymore.
"The personal issues are still going on but I can focus on myself, bring down my entire concentration to shooting. I was not able to do that earlier but now I am able to cut off myself from everything when I am shooting. I believe if you are truthful, you will keep moving ahead," Rajput told PTI.
And indeed, he is moving ahead at 37. The former Navy man captured his maiden Commonwealth Games gold with a games record at Gold Coast in April and today, he got his hands on his maiden individual Asian Games medal, a silver in the 50m rifle 3 positions.
All this he has been able to do despite not having a job for more than 12 months. Having retired from Navy after 19 years of service, Rajput joined Sports Authority of India but was sacked last year. The Jagadhri-based shooter has hopes from Haryana government but for now, his only regular source of income is the monthly pension he gets from the Navy.
"I am quite hopeful that I would be offered something after today. Lets see what happens," said the god-fearing marksman.
The fact that he has been on the international scene for almost 15 years is also benefitting him immensely.
"I have been shooting since 2003 onwards, been getting some medal or the other almost every year. I have also lost a lot of close matches in this period. Now when I am in a losing position, I think about those times and know what road to take. That helps."
Rajput looked set for the gold with a 3.0 lead after the kneeling and prone series today but a modest standing series cost him the gold. However, solid shooting towards the end helped him bounce back and take silver.
"The wind conditions were very tough and you could see that from the low scores. But I was able to regroup myself. Good I have won a medal. Before the final I was thinking the kids who are half my age are doing so well and If I didn't win, 'toh bacche kya bolenge' (what would kids say)," said Rajput on a lighter note, referring to 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary winning the 10m air pistol gold.
Jokes apart, he says Indian shooting has changed for the better with a proper system in place.
"Lot of shooters have come up. They will definitely replace the old horses. 60 to 70 percent of the shooters have already been replaced. If you look at the Chinese example, every two years they have a new team.
"We are also on the same pattern. Now those who don't perform will be out. Funding is also not an issue anymore. You just have to perform," Rajput added