Tough road to victory for Sanjeev Rajput

Life has been tough for Rajput ever since a fellow shooter filed a rape case against him in December 2016, a charge that he denies.

Sanjeev Rajput won his maiden individual Asian Games medal, a silver in the 50m rifle 3 positions.   -  PTI

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 been tough for Rajput ever since a fellow shooter filed a rape case against him in December 2016, a charge that he denies. The court case affected him immensely in the initial stages and it didn't help that shooting is a mental sport.

“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.

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The former Navy man captured his maiden Commonwealth Games gold with a games record at Gold Coast in April and Tuesday, he got his hands on his maiden individual Asian Games medal, a silver in the 50m rifle 3 positions.

While he's been able to achieve all this, he hasn't had 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's 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 benefiting 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 on Tuesday, but a modest standing series cost him the gold. However, solid shooting towards the end helped him bounce back and take silver.

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“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.