Prithviraj Tondaiman focused to be at his best

The trio of Prithviraj Tondaiman, Zoravar Sandhu and Vivaan Kapoor placed second to Kuwait, for the country’s only medal in the World Cup in Cyprus.

The trap team that won the silver in the Cyprus World Cup, from left, Vivaan Kapoor, Zoravar Sandhu, Prithviraj Tondaiman.   -  Special Arrangement

It was an impressive performance by the Indian trap team to have shot the silver against the odds in the World Cup in Cyprus.

The trio of Prithviraj Tondaiman, Zoravar Sandhu and Vivaan Kapoor placed second to Kuwait, for the country’s only medal.

Prithviraj put things in perspective and spelt the way forward, quite proud of the achievement in tough weather conditions.

"I am extremely proud of the way we shot and the way we fought as a team. Zoravar shot his best after a mediocre individual competition. Vivaan did much better than expected. As a team, we wanted to win and supported each other. This was one of the most difficult and best competitions I have shot’’, said Prithviraj.

Prithviraj had shot 114 in the individual event, and had missed the semifinals by three points.

"We were there one day before the competition. The other teams had reached at least five days earlier. We took a few days to adapt to the adverse conditions and the team medal was proof that we could have done better in the individual event if we had got time to acclimatise’’, he observed.

In the mixed trap event, Prithviraj and Shreyasi Singh missed the semifinals by four points.

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‘’After the second round, we had a fair chance. But we were asked to do be the referee. Other teams had their managers or coaches doing the job."

"But we didn’t have anyone to even give us our warm jackets. It was too cold and we went through that for 30 minutes in our shooting jackets. The next round was 15 minutes later and we froze, and the body had become stiff. We had a bad round’’, observed Prithviraj.

It has been a hard journey just to make the team, as the National championship had unsettled the regulars, as it was spread over five days. Prithviraj fought valiantly to bounce back into the national team as the No.1 following the hurriedly hosted trials.

"The National championship was unusual and difficult for all of us. But, I was training very hard and was happy to make the team as No.1’’, he said.

With the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Championship lined up later in the season, Prithviraj reasoned that it was extremely important to have a coach to provide the best guidance.

"We need a coach, a dedicated mental trainer and support staff. If we have proper support, we can focus on mindful training. We want the national federation to listen to the athletes to formulate a proper training program with the guidance of a good coach’’, he said.

It is not going to be easy, as the national federation has restricted each shooter to only two World Cups for the season.

"Restricting to few competitions and also considering those scores for selecting the team is very taxing. It puts a lot of pressure on the shooter and shifts the focus from trying to win the event to making the team for the next event. It is unfair to treat our scores from Cyprus with extreme conditions against scores from a relatively easy range in Peru’’, he argued.

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Having missed qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Prithviraj is more determined to make it early to Paris.

"Olympics is the ultimate goal for all of us. Tokyo was definitely within reach. It was touch and go initially, and I started taking it easy. I was banking on Asian Championship. I had a major weapon malfunction that was difficult to set right. I changed my gun after Asian Championship.

The new company is very supportive. My aim is to win the quota in the World Championship this year. I will back myself with proper training and productive routine to achieve that’’, he stressed.

Prithviraj was part of the government’s TOPS scheme for two years, but did not get to utilise a single rupee owing to the pandemic situation and travel restrictions.

"This year I am not in the TOPS, even though we won the gold in the World Cup in Delhi. I hope they put me back as it will definitely be very helpful’’, he said.

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