Anjali hopes to set new benchmark

I am very happy about going to my second Olympics. The memories of Sydney are still fresh. Reaching the final there has pushed my career to a different level, and I hope to set a new benchmark for myself in Athens.

As far as the preparation goes, I am ready. The only disappointment is that I could not capitalise on the fact that I had won my Olympic berth as early as in 2002. Eventually, there was no difference for me in terms of acquiring the electronic target and the ammunition, or for that matter planning the training aspects, to the shooters who had won their quota only a few months before the Olympics.

Anyway, I was happy with the way I shot in 2003, winning the air rifle gold in the Fort Benning World Cup and the World Cup Final in Milan. This year I have been working on the 3-position event, with the Kazakh coach Stanislaus Lapidus, who was originally hired by the army. It was great to train at the Army centre in Mhow, with a disciplined military regimen. I have followed some of the points sincerely, and was quite happy to win the bronze medal in this event in the Sydney World Cup earlier this season.

The biggest edge in this Olympics is that we will have eight shooters. It is a big psychological advantage. We are working on the psychological aspects more than the technical part, which has already been quite well tuned. There will be pressure of expectations, and expectations from myself. The mental training is aimed towards handling that well.

I am not too worried about not shooting good scores in the World Cups this season. Of course, I was a little disappointed but I know my faults, and know how to correct them. In any case, it doesn't matter how you fare in the World Cups, you have to perform at your best in the Olympics.

The idea is to be relaxed and not to learn anything new at this stage. I am confident of my technique. I need your blessings to shoot at my best in Athens. At the critical point, luck really counts, and good wishes do matter. From my side I will not spare anything that I need to do.

I am very happy with the following that shooting has these days, and the way it is being popularised through schools and colleges, especially in Mumbai. People not only know me but know my scores accurately. That is a good sign for the 2008 Olympics.

(as told to Kamesh Srinivasan)