Khelo India: Meet Ayushi Podder, the budding Indian shooter

Former shooter Pankaj Podder has not showcased any of the medals and certificates he and his 19-year-old daughter Ayushi have won so far in his house in Kolkata.

Ayushi Podder finished the Khelo India Games with a 10m air rifle mixed team gold and a 50m 3-position silver in the under-21 category.   -  PTI

Former shooter Pankaj Podder has not showcased any of the medals and certificates he and his 19-year-old daughter Ayushi have won so far in his house in Kolkata.

“Only, a picture of Michael Phelps is pasted on the inner flank of the main door of my house. I want Ayushi to eye the biggest glory as she graduates from junior to elite level,” Pankaj told Sportstar after Ayushi finished the Khelo India Games with a 10m air rifle mixed team gold and a 50m 3-position silver in the under-21 category.

Pankaj, a Railways employee, and his wife have made many sacrifices to see their daughter excel in shooting. “We don’t have a sofa or a cupboard in our house. A major chunk of my salary is spent on Ayushi’s training and competitions. At home, we discuss shooting all the time – sometimes till 1.30 a.m. We eat, sleep and dream shooting.

“The transition phase is the most challenging period for a shooter. The kind of training scores Ayushi is getting now, I am sure she will cross the phase smoothly.”

Eyes on the future

With a lot of clarity, Ayushi understands her goals and challenges. “I know my scores will not be a problem when I compete at the senior level. I am taking one step at a time and right now the short-term goal is to do well at the elite level and compete in the World Cup. That will help me stay in contention for a quota place in the 2024 Olympics, which is a long-term goal. The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games will also be on the priority list.”

Looking back, Ayushi shared how her family helped her mature as a sportsperson. “Earlier, I used to think since my family was making so many sacrifices, I had to give good performances. But my family told me that I did not need to take pressure as one could not always perform well, I needed to focus and they would keep supporting,” said Ayushi.