Jitu Rai was the only shooter who was able to follow up on his gold from the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with one more in Gold Coast.
Among the other three from the last edition, World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra had quit the sport, Rahi Sarnobat did not make the team and Apurvi Chandela slipped to the bronze medal when gold was within her grasp.
"I am happy with the gold in air pistol this time. Last time, I did not get to shoot air pistol and got the gold in free pistol with a record. It is gold with record this time also. You can never think about a competition as small or big. You have to try your best,’’ said Jitu Rai, quite keen to retain his focus and train better for the Asian Games and the World Championship.
With the National Rifle Association of india (NRAI) getting most of the shooters who had competed in the Games in Australia assemble for an interaction, there was no dearth of excitement or pearls of wisdom born out of hard experience.
Heena Sidhu recalled how she was disappointed about losing gold in air pistol and happy to win the gold in the 25-metre sports pistol.
‘’You tend to expect more from you. Even though I was not shooting well, I was happy the way I fought to reach the silver medal in air pistol. India won the gold and silver, so it was good. I was relaxed in sports pistol as nobody expects me to do great. But, we had trained hard and it was a good feeling to get the gold’’, said Heena.
From winning two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games in 2006 when she was a new entrant in the sport, to winning the World Championship gold in prone in 2010, and return to the Commonwealth Games with another gold 12 years after Melbourne, was a ‘’very satisfying and motivating’’ experience for Tejaswini Sawant.
‘’My coach Kuheli Gangulee had stressed on mental toughness over the years, and it was a great feeling to know that one was good for the gold once again. You keep working hard and results like this, especially in a marathon event like rifle 3-position event, confirms that you are on the right track’’, said Tejaswini.
It was the old format in rifle 3-position for women as they shot 60 in qualification, instead of the modified 120 shots on par with men in the new Olympic cycle.
‘’No matter the results, I enjoy shooting. That is what helps me train well and enjoy as well. Irrespective of the level of competition, we have to keep shooting our best and keep getting better,’’ remarked Tejaswini.
For Sanjeev Rajput who had quit Navy and had been investing all his hard earned money in the sport, it was a great relief to gain financial security through the cash awards.
‘’This gold medal makes my experience complete in the Commonwealth Games’’, said Sanjeev who shot a 1180 in qualification and 454.5 in the final for the Games record in the men’s rifle 3-position event.
Congratulating the shooters, the NRAI president Raninder Singh said that the federation was planning more recovery camps for the shooters in the hectic calendar ahead, and thus would not be fielding teams in the World Cups in the US.
The forthcoming World Cup in Changwon, Korea, however, gains importance as the World Championship, offering Olympic quota places, would be hosted at the same venue later in the season.
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