Rahi Sarnobat still has ‘nightmares’ about financial security

The Asian Games gold medallist is supported by Olympic Gold Quest and is employed as a deputy collector in Maharashtra’s revenue department, but has gone without pay since September 2017 due to her shooting commitments.

Rahi Sarnobat with coach Munkhbayar Dorsjuren after the medal ceremony of the 25m pistol event of the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.   -  PTI

Rahi Sarnobat, first female shooter from India to win an Asian Games gold, still has “nightmares” about her financial security despite competing at the highest level for more than a decade.

The 28-year-old pistol shooter from Maharashtra’s Kohlapur feels she should have been financially sound after “all these years of hardwork” but apparently she is not.

The Asian Games gold medal got her a total cash reward of ₹70 lakh (₹50 lakh from Maharashtra government and ₹20 lakh from the Union sports ministry), but such are the expenses of a top-level shooter that Sarnobat ended up giving a chunk of that award money to her personal coach Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a former Olympic medallist and world champion from Mongolia. Dorjsuren is now a German citizen.

Sarnobat is supported by Olympic Gold Quest and is employed as a deputy collector in her state’s revenue department, but she has gone without pay since September 2017 due to her sporting commitments.

“I feel I don’t have more than four years left as a professional shooter and after 12 years of competing for India, I still have sleepless nights about my financial situation,” the soft-spoken shooter told PTI.

She doesn’t know for how long she is going to keep paying Dorjsuren out of her own pocket (approximately ₹50 lakh per year), but remains fully committed to her sport and will not compromise on training one bit ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I have taken leave without pay from the state revenue department. Anyway, I have not been paid since September 2017. I thought of going to Mumbai and talk to my employers but it is very hard to find time as a professional shooter.

“We have back-to-back events and if there are no tournaments, we are busy with the training. I do want more sponsors but don’t know how to go about the whole thing,” said Sarnobat.

The 25m pistol shooter overcame a career-threatening elbow injury to win the Asian Games gold in Indonesia in August, her first major victory since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She also won a World Cup gold back in 2013.

It was Dorjsuren who played a major role in getting Sarnobat’s career back on track. The renowned coach commands a hefty remuneration and if Sarnobat’s situation doesn’t improve, she says she will run out of money to pay her.

“2018 being a busy year, I had to train with Dorjsuren for 10 months. This year too, she will be with me for at least seven months (leading to an estimated annual expense of ₹35 lakh at the rate of ₹5 lakh per month).

“I hardly have any money to take care of myself and my retired parents. I hope I find a way to deal with this at the earliest,” she added.