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Shooter Jitu Rai: Olympics is just another name of a competition

Rio-bound World No 1 pistol shooter says Olympics is just another name of a competition - his target is the same as in any event he participates

India's World No 1 pistol shooter in 50m Jitu Rai shoots from the lip as accurately as he does from his gun. "The Olympics is just another name of a competition. My target is the same," says Rai, who is World No 7 in the 10m air pistol men.

Jitu Rai. Pics/Sures Karkera
Jitu Rai. Pics/Sures Karkera

Though he hasn't had a consistent year so far, the 28-year-old Naib-Subedar in the 11 Gurkha Regiment, is confident of doing well at the Rio Games.

"After all, it is sport and even a world champion's performance can dip. There is no point taking extra pressure as it ends up spoiling your performance. I have never taken pressure and it will be the same at Rio," said Rai, an Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) supported athlete, during an interaction in the city yesterday.

"I have won some (medals) lost some this year, but I haven't been as bad. I have managed to be in the final on most occasions though I've missed out on a medal in some events. I am confident that with the right backing, and given the prayers of so many people, I can do well at Rio," said the Incheon Asian Games gold medallist.

All set for Rio: Shuttler Parupalli Kashyap (extreme left), who couldn’t make the Rio cut due to an injury, poses with Rio-bound athletes Chain Singh (50m Rifle 3 position, 50m Rifle prone), Jitu Rai (50m free pistol, 10m air pistol), Heena Sidhu (10m air pistol, 25m pistol), Ayonika Paul (10m air rifle), boxer Shiva Thapa, shuttler PV Sindhu, Gurpreet Singh (25m rapid fire pistol, 10m air pistol), Prakash Nanjappa (50m pistol) and Apurvi Chandela (10m air rifle) with the Indian flag during a ceremony held by Olympic Gold Quest at a city hotel yesterday. Pics/Suresh Karkera
All set for Rio: Shuttler Parupalli Kashyap (extreme left), who couldn’t make the Rio cut due to an injury, poses with Rio-bound athletes Chain Singh (50m Rifle 3 position, 50m Rifle prone), Jitu Rai (50m free pistol, 10m air pistol), Heena Sidhu (10m air pistol, 25m pistol), Ayonika Paul (10m air rifle), boxer Shiva Thapa, shuttler PV Sindhu, Gurpreet Singh (25m rapid fire pistol, 10m air pistol), Prakash Nanjappa (50m pistol) and Apurvi Chandela (10m air rifle) with the Indian flag during a ceremony held by Olympic Gold Quest at a city hotel yesterday. Pics/Suresh Karkera

Rai, who finished sixth in the men's 50m pistol in the World Cup at Rio de Janerio's Olympic Shooting Centre last month, said that the experience will keep him in good stead for the August 5-21 quadrennial event.

"The 10m and 50m ranges are close by at Rio. Also, the atmosphere is quite different and there is a lot of disturbance around. The targets are also different from the ones we have back home. My sixth-place finish notwithstanding, the experience will help me do well when I go there for the Olympics in in a few months," said Rai, who won gold in the 50m pistol at the Bangkok World Cup in March.

Rai is now looking forward to the June 8-13 invitation event to be held in France followed by the ISSF World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan (June 20-29).

"The event in France is only for those shooters who have qualified for Rio. I expect a lot of top shooters there," said the Nepal-born shooter.

Col Lalit Sharma, trainer at the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) in Mhow, where Rai practises, hailed his ward's temperament.

"If you don't tell anybody that Jitu is the World No 1 shooter, nobody will have a clue. He is calm and composed while shooting. He doesn't succumb to pressure. At the AMU, we give them a lot of mental training. Jitu also does vipassana (meditation). I am confident he will win a medal for us," said Col Sharma.

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