Chasing Olympic dreams, Heena Sidhu aims to score better

Heena, who is going through a rigorous training session with her husband and coach Ronak Pandit at the Manav Rachna Shooting Academy in Faridabad, says her best is yet to come.

Heena Sidhu with her husband and coach Ronak Pandit at the Manav Rachna Shooting Academy in Faridabad on Thursday.   -  Special Arrangement

She has competed in the last two Olympics in London and Rio. She has held the world record in women’s air pistol. She has won the World Cup Final gold. Yet, Heena Sidhu feels the need to evolve into a better version of herself -- Heena 2.0.

The only Olympic quota in women’s air pistol has so far been won by the young Manu Bhaker, who has joined Lady Shriram College. A perfectionist, Heena is chasing her Olympic dreams as vigorously as ever.

Going through a training session with her husband and coach Ronak Pandit, at the Manav Rachna Shooting Academy in Faridabad, Heena -- who is also a dentist -- introspects with considerable clarity and maturity.

“I have won more than others. But I have not reached my potential. My best is yet to come,’’ she announced.

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The recent scores do not match her stature and the firm hold she had over air pistol. Is it too much knowledge weighing her down. How hard is it, to keep things simple?

“Knowledge is good if you know how to use it. So, I am finding my way of using it to my advantage. The challenge is to keep evolving and that is the best way to keep things simple. I am not the same person I was 12 years ago. I have to figure things that will work now, and for the next decade,’’ she stressed.

Maybe, the better scores elude her these days because she is too demanding on herself, and seeks perfection every time she triggers.

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“Nothing but the best will do for me. Being a perfectionist is not bad, but one has to be happy with the good. My coach, the late Anatoli Piddubnyi, used to say, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good’. We can aspire for perfection, but need to be content and happy with the good,’’ she recalled.

How does she plan to shoot better scores in qualification that would put her in finals and get her the chance to pin that elusive Olympic quota for Tokyo 2020?

“My coach will find a way, and my job will be to execute it. We are in the process of creating a stronger Heena 2.0,’’ she emphasised.

Heena had entered the Kumar Surendra Singh championship and the fifth selection trials last month but had opted out. Was she preserving her competitive zeal for better events?

“Skipping those events was in my best interest. We have all fallen into the trap of just being better than the others. I have decided to get out of this trap and just be the best version of myself. So, even for the Masters event coming up next in Delhi, we will take a call. Training and competition are two different things. So, let’s see,’’ she explained.

When asked whether it was relief for her that the International Federation had redesigned the shooters page on its website and only gives medals and positions, and not the scores any more, Heena was quite forthcoming.

“This is bad! An athlete should be known for the performances and not medals. Performance is score, not medal. There have been times I shot higher and lost, but won with a low score. A medal means nothing to me. The ISSF should encourage information about athletes performances and not just medals’’, she said.

She may not be able to practice as a doctor, but does she at least get to indulge in her favourite pastime of painting, sketching etc.

“I don’t remember the last time I got time to even think about painting, sketching, reading, cooking ! The schedule has been so tight and the system right now is not conducive for longevity and class. Yet, I am working on creating harmony and balance in my personal and sports life,’’ she signed off.

Perhaps, there lies the key to good scores!