Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning shooter Ronak Pandit returned to competitive shooting after a three-year hiatus with a bang at the Maharashtra State Shooting Championships at the Maharashtra Rifle Association range in Worli yesterday.
The city shooter won two gold — (25m rapid fire and free pistol), and two silver medals (standard pistol and centre pistol) yesterday. In a thrilling final of the 25m rapid fire pistol event, Ronak and defending champion from Pune, Vikrant Ghaisas were tied for the top spot. Ronak however, outplayed the champ in the subsequent shoot-out to clinch the gold medal. Shivraj Sase won the bronze medal.
Ronak, son of former India shooter and Arjuna awardee Ashok Pandit, shot gold in the 25m standard pistol (pairs) with Samresh Jung at the 2006 CWG but took a break thereafter and began coaching and even opened his own academy — the Ronak Pandit Shooting Centre in Goregaon.
On of his disappearance from the competitive sports scene post-2006, Pandit explained: “My pet events are the 10m air pistol and 25m rapid fire pistol. In 2010, I was trying my hand at too many events and compromised on my basics. That’s when I decided to take a break.”
Needless to say, Ronak is eyeing a spot on the national team now. “This tournament is my comeback attempt and I’m glad that it has been a positive experience.
Now, I want to concentrate on qualifying for next year’s Asian Games (in Incheon, Korea),” said Ronak, who is married to India shooter Ronak is married to India shooter Heena Sidhu, who along with Annu Raj Singh, won the gold medal in 10m air pistol (pairs) event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Ronak (28) admitted he will be a lot more busy now that he has returned to competitive shooting. “Apart from working on my own qualification (for the Asian Games) I need to take care of my wife’s training and also the training of my students,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ghaisas was all praise for Ronak. “The final was close. I had a comfortable 15-12 lead, but Ronak made a terrific comeback. There’s no doubt about his talent. He is here to stay,” he said.