Gunning for glory

Esha Singh is the record-holder for three years now at the State level — in the juniors, youth and seniors categories in 10m air pistol.

Just into her teens, the 13-year old Esha Singh is making waves.   -  PTI

Age: 13

Education: Class 8 in Boston School (Secunderabad).

From: Hyderabad

Discipline: Shooting

Beginning: Appearances, they say, are always deceptive! Well, Esha Singh stands as a shining example of this old adage. Unlike many of her age group, who may not even have seen a gun or a pistol ever, this young girl picked a gun when she accompanied her father, Sachin Singh (himself a national rally driver and runs a sports shop), to a get-together in October 2014 at the Sports Authority of Telangana State shooting ranges in Gachibowli. There was guarded reaction and some sense of panic, too, but when she uttered the first statement after picking the gun — dad, can I try to shoot — it surprised many.

Soon, Esha was a regular to the ranges at the age of 10 and she rarely showed a fancy for any other sport. She always gave an impression that she belonged to a different breed. What clearly impressed her parents — Sachin and Srilatha (both motor racing competitors) — was her self-belief at such a young age that she can make it big. The expectations were that she would be able to make a mark at the age of 15. But she kept surprising everyone — back home and in the ranges — with her consistency, thanks to Gagan Narang’s Gun For Glory Academy which hired the services of Seon-Il Kim and Sundar Ghate’s tutelage.

That she was immensely talented was never in doubt. For, she is the record-holder for three years now at the State level — in the juniors, youth and seniors categories in 10m air pistol. And, in her maiden South Zone championship in 2017, she won two gold medals in 10m air pistol in two categories.

So, when Esha set the shooting ranges on fire, literally, in the 62nd Senior nationals in Trivandrum recently with a national record for being the youngest, at 13, to win three golds in all three categories — junior, youth and senior women — it may not have surprised many who have been following her career. A performance which made the critics stand up and acknowledge that here is a bundle of talent which can go the distance.

Just consider this. The teenage sensation took in her stride the likes of World and Commonwealth championship medallist Manu Bhaker in all three finals, former World No. 1 Heena Sidhu and Olympian Shweta Chaudhary on way to setting that national record.

Even Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, the 2004 Athens Olympics medallist, was quick to acknowledge her stunning feat and sent congratulatory messages.

The major challenge as she keeps moving on is sponsorship as it is fast turning out to be very expensive for this young shooter to travel abroad for competitions.

Aim: For someone so young, Esha has already set her eyes on making it to the 2022 Youth Olympics and the 2024 Olympics. Importantly, she knows the path and agrees that it is not going to be easy but throws up a challenge of sorts, saying — is it impossible?

Strong point: Focus. Nothing can distract her. She displays the essential characteristic of keeping her mind clear to avoid any distractions once she picks up the gun. She is never worried about the stature of her opponent. There are simply no thought processes at all except aiming the target, she says.

What they say: Father Sachin Singh (who travels with her everywhere): She is a coach’s delight — least perturbed once she goes out to the ranges. Nothing can distract her. She has all the qualities of a champion shooter, importantly having a clear frame of mind.

The biggest challenge for us now is her diet. We in South India love chapathis or rice. When Esha goes abroad to places like Germany either for competition or a camp, then it is a major issue. We are still trying to find out if a cook is allowed with squads in other disciplines or we have to take care of packing some food items which don’t disturb the composition of her body and in turn affect her performances.

CAREER GRAPH:

2016, 2017, 2018 — State champion in 10m air pistol in junior, youth and women categories.

2017: Two golds in youth and junior, a silver in senior level in South Zone championship.

2018: Three golds in Senior Nationals in 10m air pistol in junior, youth and senior categories. Civilian category 10m air pistol gold in youth category and silver in senior. Silver in team event in civilian category.

2018: Junior World Cup finished 20th.

2018: Meeting of shooting hopes in Germany 9th place.