Rashmmi Rathore - From tragedy and tears to triumph

The Hyderabad crack shot overcame grief of father's death en route to a podium finish in the Asian Shotgun Shooting championship in Kazakhstan.

Rashmmi Rathore: “My parents’ last fixed deposit will fund this year’s practice, equipment and ammunition".   -  Special Arrangement

When the national anthem played, Rashmmi Rathore put up a brave front. She’d just received the mixed doubles skeet gold medal with Mairaj Ahmed Khan in the Asian Shotgun Shooting championship at Astana, Kazakhstan.

Ceremony over, she deserted the podium, heading for the closest corner. Pent up grief gave way to a torrent of tears. For the one she most longed to share that euphoria with was gone.  Barely a month before, her father Capt. Y.S. Rathore had succumbed to a second heart attack.

If Rashmmi’s mother Annie Mathew was the more prudent parent, chaperoning her to a career, her dad had veered towards valour. Chase your dreams, he’d seemed to suggest, spotting the spark if not her soft spot for the shotgun.

Incidentally, he introduced her to the weapon, cautioning his only child against robbers lurking in the shadows of their Sainikpuri house. The now much sought after Secunderabad suburb, that’s home to mostly retired army officers, was almost jungle when her grandfather Lt. Col. R.S. Rathore built the bungalow.

“I went into the championship with a heavy heart. As if at my departed dad’s prompting, I felt stronger each time I shot down a clay bird and my confidence soared,” recounted Rashmmi of her triumph in tragedy.

The Hyderabad crack shot had defied the odds of very cold and windy weather, Mairaj’s encouragement adding motivation to come up trumps.

She’d missed the national camp at Delhi shortly after the sad demise of her father. “Knowing how much my success mattered to him, I’d begin practice as early as 6 a.m., thanks to Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS) range Administrator Alexander Francis,” she said of her preparations for Kazakhstan’s new capital.

Fate’s hardly been kind to Rashmmi as has the firing fraternity been indifferent. She was forced to quit a lucrative accounting job in the Netherlands, when her father had the first cardiac arrest. With no financial support forthcoming from any quarter, her father sold his farm, his last source of income apart from an army pension.

“My parents’ last fixed deposit will fund this year’s practice, equipment and ammunition,” she says, uncertainty looming large over a future-imperfect career. “All along, prospective sponsors set the condition that I must win an international medal. Now that I’ve two - a team silver and the mixed doubles gold - I wish they’ll back me so that I can focus on my shooting,” she hopes.