Rahi Sarnobat, the Indian shooter, is “strong willed” and “very stubborn” in the pursuit of her goal, according to Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) CEO and former hockey midfielder Viren Rasquinha. Sarnobat won the gold medal in the women’s 25m air pistol event on Wednesday, and Rasquinha, who has overseen her development since 2013 when the OGQ began supporting her, is not surprised at her self-belief.
“Don’t be fooled by her demeanour, it is very different from her attitude. She is strong-willed, very stubborn in her approach. If Rahi wants something, she will go for it,” he said.
Rahi’s gold was her first title at the Asian Games. The three other gold medallists at the Games — Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Saurabh Chaudhary — are also supported by the OGQ, which nurtures performers with the potential to win gold at the Olympic Games. Rasquinha, who oversees the co-ordination with athletes on behalf of the OGQ, praised the four athletes. “When you speak to them, you realise how tough they are. The common factor in all four is self-belief, that they can and will do it. They do not know fear,” he said.
“There are stories behind every medal,” Rasquinha pointed out.
Vinesh and Rahi came back from career-threatening injuries. Saurabh, on the other hand, is a first-timer at the Asian Games, clinching the men’s 10m air pistol title at the age of 16. Rasquinha elaborated: “In three out of four Asian Games champions, the success reveals the importance of having a strong technical coach (Saurabh trains with his local coach and others under foreigners, who have been arranged for by the organisation). The investment in terms of money for these coaches is huge. Each of them also has a personal physiotherapist. Technical inputs and physical fitness went a long way in helping them reach this level.”
Rahi’s training is monitored by Munkbayer Dorjusen, German Olympic medal-winner and world champion, at the Balewadi sports complex in Pune. Vinesh started working with OGQ at the start of 2018. “Three things she distinctly mentioned — coach, full-time physiotherapist, advice on diet and nutrition. She is in a weight sport and maintained her weight category was the biggest challenge. The work with her was focussed,” said Rasquinha.
“She went to Hungary in the lead-up to Asian Games 2018 and is coached by Woller Akos,” he added.
Shako Bentinidis from Georgia is the coach of Bajrang, who also has a physio and a nutritionist. “Bajrang and Vinesh looked streets ahead of the competition at Jakarta,” said Rasquinha.
“Saurabh trains with a local coach and our support is related to equipment, nutrition, [and] physio. The biggest challenge was equipment since his family is not financially sound,” said Rasquinha, adding: “We work in tandem with the Sports Authority of India and the TOPS team, keep them updated. Finally, these athletes belong to the nation.”