Indian shooters Heena Sidhu (left) and Jitu Rai celebrate after winning the 10m air pistol mixed team event of the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI
She was eliminated in the qualification round at the Rio Olympics in August last year finishing 14th in the 10m women's air pistol event, but that result didn't seem to affect former World No. 1 and two-time Olympian shooter Heena Sidhu.
A little over six months, the Ludhiana-born pocketed the 'golden badge' in the 10m air pistol mixed team event of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in New Delhi yesterday.
Sidhu along with Jitu Rai beat Japan, which had former world champion Tomoyuki Matsuda, in the final.
Since the mixed event is being used on a trial basis in accordance with the International Olympic Committee's aim to achieve gender equality in its 2020 Tokyo Olympics program, medals are not being awarded even though the ISSF executive committee has ratified the recommendations.
Sidhu was immensely satisfied with her triumph after a disappointing Rio campaign. "Actually, before Rio, things started looking very shaky. I realised that adopting a defensive mindset was not the best plan, so I changed my approach this time and have gone from a defensive mindset to an attacking one. I haven't conquered anything today. There's still lot to do," Sidhu told mid-day yesterday.
The 27-year-old shooter, also a dentist, failed to qualify for the final of the 10m air pistol in the ongoing event.
"I had a bad match yesterday. Whatever I learnt in that match, I improved today, but it will still take time before I am satisfied with my state. I'm still raw, but winning a medal is definitely a confidence booster," she added.
The recently-introduced 10m air pistol mixed team event by the ISSF will replace the 50m free pistol event at Tokyo. “Of course, there is a future for this kind of event. This is very similar to the air pistol event. It makes a shooter much more adaptable and they can adapt to new variations as well,” Sidhu said.
Indian shooters were shambolic in Rio where for the first time since Sydney 2000, the contingent returned without a medal. However, looking ahead to Tokyo, Sidhu reckoned Indian shooters need somebody to monitor their performance to achieve desired results.
“We need to do a lot of monitoring in our physical, mental and emotional states. Identifying those is key. A lot of Indian shooters do not understand this. They think that one fine day they will peak. So basically, there’s no consistency. I identify my performance state to an extent of identifying my intake of water. Before you enter the lane, you need to be at your optimum level. So we need to get somebody to identify these performance states. In that way, athletes can peak at the right time and the desired results can be achieved,” Sidhu, now settled in Mumbai, explained.
The IOC recently passed a suggestion to turn the shooting range bullet-free where shooters would fire laser beams at targets. Sidhu was expectedly displeased with the thought. “This will kill shooting. It will almost be equivalent to having an image of a ball and not a real ball in cricket. The feeling of the shot being fired is what attracts crowd. If you want to bring in laser beams, then let’s just play video-games. Why even bother to have national anthems and athletes carrying flags? Let’s just have play stations,” she retorted.