Mentor Dhillon traces Yashaswini Singh Deswal’s growth

Yashaswini won the Olympic quota for India after a dominant 582 in qualification in Rio, and an authoritative performance in the final when she did not give a chance for anyone to overtake her.

Yashaswini Deswal with mentor T.S. Dhillon.   -  Special Arrangement

Yashaswini Singh Deswal shooting the gold and the Olympic quota place with nonchalance in women’s air pistol at the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, may be a revelation for many, but not for her mentor Tejinder Singh Dhillon.

“I was not able to watch the live streaming because of bad internet connection. But, I kept track of the scores. Yashaswini shot very well. During training we had always maintained that she had to shoot first time, and not cancel her shots and focus again,” said Dhillon, the former Inspector General of Police at the CRPF Academy in Gurugram and the North East.

Interestingly, it was Dhillon who had introduced Yashaswini to the sport and helped her buy an old pistol to start her training.

Dhillon had established many shooting ranges in Phillaur, Badal, Guru Natak Dev University, Amritsar and the 1000-yard full bore range for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in Gurugram. He was a pioneer in helping youngsters take up shooting and guided them suitably.

“Yashaswini was physically very frail but very disciplined. We had established a shooting range at home for her in Panchkula and it was shifted to Delhi when her dad was transferred,” recalled Dhillon.

Yashaswini was in the reckoning for the Rio Olympics, after having made the final of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, but missed out narrowly.

Yashaswini was in the reckoning for the Rio Olympics, after having made the final of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, but missed out narrowly.

In the Asian Championship which was the last event for the Olympic quota places at home in Delhi, Yashaswini shot 387 out of 400 in qualification, on par with Heena Sidhu, but ended up fourth. Heena beat compatriot Shweta Singh by 0.7 point to win the Olympic quota.

“It was very close. Yashaswini was shooting very well at that time,” recalled Dhillon.

When her scores dipped, Dhillon was able to spot the reason and rectify, reviving her confidence. “We got her rhythm back by getting her original grip after it had been adjusted and modified’’, said Dhillon, who was with the team in Beijing, when Abhinav Bindra won the gold in Olympics.

A qualified international A-grade judge, Dhillon has also been to three World Championships, three Asian Games and many World Cups around the world, apart from the Asian Championships.

There was a hint of Yashaswini getting into the groove for the Olympic quota in the Beijing World Cup this season, when she shot 577 and missed the final by one point. She had shot better than Manu Bhaker (575) and Heena Sidhu (572) then.

Manu went on to clinch the Olympic quota in Munich after shooting 582 in qualification, while Yashaswini missed her chance with a last card of 92 that brought her total down to 574. She missed the final by four points.

Eventually, Yashaswini accomplished the task after a dominant 582 in qualification in Rio, and an authoritative performance in the final when she did not give a chance for anyone to overtake her.

Interestingly, in June last year, Yashaswini had won the mixed air pistol gold in the Kumar Surendra Singh Championship with Abhishek Verma at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad. Abhishek who was yet to represent the country then, went on to win the Asian Games bronze and two gold medals this season in the World Cups, winning the Olympic quota along the way.