The day She shot herself in the foot

Shweta Chaudhary had been suffering from shooting-related neck and shoulder problems for a couple of years, but the bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games, the best and brightest in her career, turned out to be a nice, soothing balm.

She may have given the country its first medal at the Asian Games in Incheon, but Shweta Chaudhary had shot herself in the foot once, a long time ago.

“I must have been nine that day when we went to a shooting range and a National camp was on. After some time, my dad, brother and I got a lane, borrowed a weapon and started shooting,” said Shweta, who won the women’s 10m air pistol bronze in Incheon.

“We didn’t know how to shoot, so my dad was observing others and teaching us and then he went back and was talking to someone. I just took the pistol down and accidentally pulled the trigger. The shot hit my foot.

“I didn’t realise it at first, but then after my brother saw blood coming from my leg, I started screaming and crying.”

Despite that setback, it did not take long for Shweta to make a mark in the sport. She made rapid strides and became a sub-junior national champion at 11.

“My brother and I shared a gun, but I got serious about shooting in 2000 when I broke a 12-year-old record in the Senior Nationals in Punjab. I shot 380 and the old record was 372. That was my first Senior National title. I realised then that this was the sport for me,” she said.

Now, the 28-year-old from Faridabad plans to continue shooting for the next 20 or, if possible, 30 years.

Shweta, who could not make it to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games team, with the fight for national berths getting tougher, had to wait for 12 years for this individual medal.

However, she was confident of getting a medal in Incheon despite the presence of big stars like Heena Sidhu, who was the World No. 1 just a few months ago, and the new Commonwealth Games silver medallist Malaika Goel in the Indian team.

“I missed the last Asian Games, and this is my third one. It’s getting tougher with each Games but I’m gaining experience too. And this time, I was confident that I would do well,” Shweta said.

She had been suffering from shooting-related neck and shoulder problems for a couple of years but the bronze medal, the best and brightest in her career, turned out to be a nice, soothing balm.

Stan Rayan