At 18, Esha Singh has built an impressive shooting resume. Ever since she began training in 2014, the young shooter has consistently outperformed and proven to the shooting world that she’s one to look out for. The two golds and one bronze she bagged in the junior section at the 2022 ISSF World Championship in Cairo paved the way for her to be seen as a promising prospect for India at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The Hyderabad-based shooter, having finished her class 12 Board examination, is eager to move on to the next phase: adding yet another medal to her name at the international level.
“I would say 12th (grade) was very hectic. I had to study during the Egypt World Cup. I would miss my practice if I had an exam on that day. And right before my boards finished, I had to travel all the way to Bhopal (ISSF World Cup 2023). It was very exhausting,” Esha told Sportstar.
Esha’s Bhopal campaign didn’t go according to plan, with the shooter finishing sixth in the women’s 25m pistol and 10th in the women’s 10m air pistol events, respectively.
Throughout this challenging period, her parents have been right alongside her. “Both of them (father Sachin and mother Srilatha) have been supportive since day one. They have been my backbone since the beginning.”
A chance beginning
Sachin also doubles up as her mentor. The former rally driver, instrumental in shaping up Esha’s journey to greatness, balances the dual responsibilities quite well.
“It’s like a ‘switch’ once we’re on the range. We talk only about shooting, and there are certain points he notices and notes down. But once we’re back home, I think he is a normal dad,” says Esha, who trains at Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s Gun For Glory (GFG) Academy.
Esha knew she had found her calling the first time she heard a shotgun go. And GFG has only helped realise her dreams.
“In the beginning, we had to go to Pune to get my basics strong. This was something very unique, and knowing I could start at that age was even more exciting for me. Then slowly it (GFG) opened up in Hyderabad, and that’s how I started.”
Since then, Esha hasn’t let anything stand in the way of unlocking her true potential. Even though the sport demands a large amount of physical and mental strength, her discipline and determination have helped her come good. “I would say it’s more mentally difficult,” Esha said when asked if she could put a finger on whether it was physically or mentally more taxing.
Mental health a priority
She added, “In shooting, you’re doing the same thing again and again, a hundred times. It’s like doing math for me—different kind of sums, but at the end of the day, the same thing.”
Mental health thus assumes a very high place on Esha’s priority list. “Your mind is very important. If you feel like you only need skills to be good at training, that means you’re not really focusing on the mental aspect.
“You’re letting your mind control you when you must be controlling your mind. So learning how to do that is very important.”
Even if training for the day doesn’t go as per her plans, the young athlete doesn’t let that hold her back for too long. She just looks forward to doing better the next day.
Striking a balance
Outside the range, Esha is just another teenager, who would have wanted to spend more time at school, hanging out with her friends whenever she wanted. ”I’m like a new person every time I go to school. There was no (staying in) touch. In 2014-15, we didn’t have Instagram, and nobody had their own phones. So it was very difficult. But certain friends did stick.”
Esha has ended up befriending many at the range itself. The schedule at camps can get quite hectic—usually four days of training followed by a few days off. So getting a long break is quite a luxury and is thoroughly relished. “Getting (off) season is very tough, but I do get a break. Then I try to get a lot of rest, and something that really goes well with that is reading. I just sit with a book or if I’m not in the mood to read, I watch a movie.”
Staring at a world of opportunity
The budding talent who has shown great potential in the sport considers Greek shooter Anna Korakaki as her role model. “In my field, she is somebody I really admire. She is a double Olympic medallist in shooting (gold in 25m sports pistol and bronze in 10m air pistol at Rio 2016).”
Having an affinity for Formula 1 and NASCAR, she also holds F1 legend Ayrton Senna in high regard. “He is one of my favorite sportsmen. I feel like he is the greatest F1 driver, and as a person also, he’s very nice.”
The field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) piques Esha’s interest too. “I wanted to get into AI a few years ago. I was kind of interested in the technology field because we are a generation that grew up with it.”
Esha, currently looking to pursue a degree in business administration, would like to follow in the footsteps of her parents - both are entrepreneurs - some day. Until then, the pistol ace’s eyes will be set on the upcoming internationals, where she will be looking to bag more medals. An Olympic medal in Paris will be the cherry on the cake!
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