Vijay Kumar on his 2012 London Olympics silver medal: I was not worried about other competitors

My coach Pavel Smirnov kept me calm, with my mind focused on technique. That helped me to shoot so well and win the silver medal in the final.

As deputy superintendent of police in Himachal Pradesh, I am learning the job. After serving the army from 2001 to 2017, this was a change for me. After the World Championships in 2018, I have been out of touch with shooting because of all the training related to work.

I will come back to shooting, and it should take me about three months to get my rhythm, and about a year to get back into the national team. The foundation for my life has been shooting, and it has given me so many reasons to celebrate.

The Olympic silver medal in London has provided the brightest spark in my career so far.

In 2012, going into the London Games, my preparation was very good. The best part was that the national federation had agreed to send my personal coach Pavel Smirnov to ensure the best training for me. Hired by the army, Pavel had trained me from 2007.

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We travelled to Poland and Germany for training and went straight to London for the Games. We had no disturbance to our training. At home in India, we meet a lot of people.

The second important point was that the 25m rapid-fire pistol had a new format. It was a zero-start, new final. It was first tried in our event. After the London Olympics, they applied the rule to all other shooting events.

We became familiar over four years of the Olympic cycle, with the format of the qualification score not counting towards the final placings. It was applied at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cups and national championships.

When I went to the Games in London, my first Olympics, I was not thinking about a medal. I never thought about the outcome. The focus was on performance. I had shot 584 in qualification to win the Olympic quota with a silver medal at the Fort Benning World Cup in 2011. I was targeting that score. I wanted to have my personal best performance at the Olympics.

You need to be focused on technique to perform better. My coach ensured that focus for me. My coach was everything for me, including the mind trainer. He used to train me very hard and gave me good points to remember.

I had shot 293 on the first day of competition and was placed fifth or so. The top six make the finals in our event. My coach told me that it would suffice if I shot the same score on the second day. I shot 292 and qualified for the final with 585 – my best score in the international arena.

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Considering that it was my first Olympics, the coach was happy. He kept me calm, with my mind focused on technique. That helped me to shoot so well and win the silver medal in the final.

I was not worried about the other competitors or the high scores that they had shot in qualification. We were all familiar with each other. It was not a new thing for me to shoot in that field. I was able to deliver by staying patient and not allowing negative thoughts to rule my mind.

I am happy with the silver medal. The tendency is always to have something better. I feel that we must be happy with what we have.

I was very happy to have come back with the medal. I was thrilled that I gave the people of the whole country a reason to feel happy and proud.

As told to Kamesh Srinivasan

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