Former Olympic shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who won a silver medal in men’s double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics, felt that the 11-member Indian shooting contingent is capable of a rich medal haul at the London Games.
“It is a good sign that the number of athletes qualifying for the Olympics has gone up. I would consider this Olympic cycle from 2009 onwards going into the 2010 Commonwealth Games and then the Olympic year as the best-funded cycle. Yes, overall you can expect a couple of medals. If the team comes back winning just a medal, it would be pathetic. So, I would hope that they should come back with nothing less than five medals,” Rathore, who finished behind gold medallist Ahmed Almaktoum of United Arab Emirates, told MiD DAY yesterday.
Rathore failed to qualify for the London Games since he did not hit the high notes at the Asian Shooting Championships in Doha last January. “As a sportsman, it’s a big thing to represent your country. Me not going to London is a loss to the country,” said the 42-year-old, who is now a colonel in the Indian army.
“Winning the silver at Athens was a very big achievement for me. Basically, before I won the silver, the Indian contingent was always looked upon by the world as a losing team. The medal brought a ray of hope to not just shooting, but all other disciplines. The medal made the public’s perception change. Now, we are talking about a number of medals that we can win. I have faced both the brunt and the adulation,” said the former World No 1.
The shooter explained that he was aware that winning a gold at Athens was practically impossible. “I knew that Almaktoum was leading by a big margin, so it was critical to hold my nerves. And in my subconscious mind I knew that a realistic aim was a silver,” he said. Rathore termed the Olympic village as a ‘bindaas’ place. “The village had the crème de la crème athletes from the world under the same roof. Even in the dining hall we would come across the biggest players like Roger Federer sitting across the table, making no fuss,” he signed off.