Renata Mauer, a winner all the way

She was dumped by her husband barely a month before the 1996 Olympics and forced to take care of their child all by herself. But Renata Mauer didn’t buckle. She came up with a sterling performance in Atlanta to win a gold and a bronze.

Gold standard: Renata Mauer with the gold medal after winning the women’s 50m rifle three-position event in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.   -  Getty Images

My mentor Bhishmaraj Bam opened my eyes to the sharp shooter who would soon become my role model.

Barely a month before the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Renata Mauer’s husband ditched her. To add insult to injury, she was left holding their baby, figuratively and literally! The young mother would practise her craft when her one-and-a-half-year old child slept, generally in the early hours of the morning.

I don’t remember if Renata’s child travelled with her to the Games or was left behind back home. Both were equally difficult propositions for any parent! Against such odds, the crack shot from Nasielsk in Poland clinched the gold in the women’s 10-metre air rifle event and a bronze in the 50-metre three-position event. Renata’s display in the capital city of Georgia, incidentally the home to soft drink giant Coca-Cola, was memorable, to say the least. That her achievement was no flash in the pan became evident in the Sydney Olympics four years later. Then 31, Renata did even better, claiming the gold this time in the highly taxing 50-metre three-position.

During a World Cup in 2000 — I am unable to recall where — we competed against each other. I reached the 10-metre air rifle final, but to my disappointment, she didn’t. In the 50- metre three-position, my heroine was in full cry.

Her attire and equipment were simple, so was her demeanour. Renata’s body language, however, revealed confidence. Going by her warm-up and approach to the final showdown, she was a picture of poise. I was not in the least surprised that she struck gold. After I left the arena, I spotted my favourite markswoman in the athletes’ area, exiting after the competition along with her coach. This was my wow moment and I wouldn’t let it pass. When she came within range, “Congratulations,” I said and shook hands with her and the coach, for which she thanked me. No more words were exchanged, but she must have seen the admiration in my eyes.

A moment to cherish: Anjali Bhagwat (top place on the podium) with one of her favourite markswomen, Galkina Lioubov (third place on the podium) during the European Circuit shooting championships in 2001.

 

Another shooter I held in high esteem was Galkina Lioubov. A 10m air rifle silver medallist and 50m three-position gold medallist at the Athens Olympics, what stood out was her consistency. Her scores rarely dipped below 10.3!

During a World Cup in Milan, there was a storm on the range, but Galkina fired a world record! Invariably I would finish second to her in most competitions. I finally managed to defeat her in the Champion of Champions tournament in the same north Italian city.

As told to A. Joseph Antony