Rathore oozing confidence

MY Olympic preparation has gone off very well as I had planned. Training with Russell Mark and Luca Marini has been a great experience. They are seasoned shooters and have amazing depth of knowledge. Of course, technically I didn't have to change much. It has been hard work in the last three months in Europe. I have learnt a lot more in this period than in the last three years when I have been trying to learn by trial and error, training on my own, with my limited knowledge.

Well, learning is a continuous process. One can never say that one is done with that. God has been very kind, and I have been able to get all the support from the government and the other authorities. I am humbled by the manner in which they have all been able to provide me with whatever I wanted, so that I could make the best preparation.

Of course, everything does not happen the way one wants. I wanted to stay in a hotel near the range, but that could not be arranged, though I did so for a couple of days till the village opened. The idea was to avoid an hour's journey by staying near the range.

I have shot at the Athens World Cup. Honestly, I didn't want to win that. It would have been difficult for me to return to Athens and try to win again. Having said that, I did feel that I could have shot a better score in that World Cup, though I was happy to make the final.

Overall, I am pleased with my form. I had won the World Cup in Sydney with a 187 out of 200, apart from the Asian clay pigeon championship in Bangkok and the Masters Cup in the Czech Republic. I chose to shoot in difficult ranges, and in competition where the same machines and ammunition were being used as that of Athens. I opted to train rather than compete in two other World Cups, because I knew that I would do well and didn't want that kind of build-up.

The biggest challenge for me is to treat the Olympics as another competition. It is another competition with a big name. I just want to try and do things the normal way as I have done in other competitions. It is going to be a small field, with about 30 shooters in five squads. Even as I get ready to give it the best shot, I don't want to burden myself with the thought that I am preparing solely for the Olympics, but would try to take advantage of this solid preparation in future competitions as well.

(as told to Kamesh Srinivasan)