Heena Sidhu: Just like studies, shooting must also be in your daily schedule
All four students are trainees of former national shooting champion Vishwajeet Shinde
Though their mid-term exams are a little over a week away, the Bombay Scottish (Mahim) trio of Shreeya Koppula, Sriram Ramesh and Arjun Thakoor, all aspiring pistol shooters, were only too happy to seek special permission from their principal to attend mid-day's Meet Your Icon event recently.
After all, they couldn't have missed out on meeting their idol, Heena Sidhu - one of the prime reasons they picked up guns so early in life. The excitement across the teenagers' faces was palpable and so were the nerves that probably eased up a bit on seeing their senior shooter friend, Sharvari Raje, a young rifle shooter, also at the venue. All four students are trainees of former national shooting champion Vishwajeet Shinde.
The young guns had a lengthy chat with Heena and came away thrilled.
Sriram: You have won medals at CWG, World Cup and Asian Games. Which one is your most memorable?
My most memorable medal will always be the Delhi Commonwealth Games  because I trained very hard for it. Before going to the CWG, for eight months my scores were quite low. I didn't even make it to the Commonwealth Championship at that time. So, I had to start all over again. I had started working with a new coach Anatoli [Poddubny] from Ukraine. I trained hard because it was a huge event and that too in India, where everyone had high expectations from us. So, for me, that was a big medal because I was young. I made a plan for myself at that age, hired a coach, improved on everything and delivered when required. Being the first Games that I went to, the CWG medal will always be special to me.
Sriram: How can we balance shooting with our studies?
Shooting should always be in your schedule. Shooting is a way of life and not just a sport. The focus you require for shooting is the same you need for academics. If you can sacrifice a couple of hours away from your friends, TV and mobiles, it's is easy [to accommodate]. Besides, shooting is a way of life. It's how you think, how you accept failures and success. You cannot be a champion on the range and a loser off it. You need that champion attitude in life too.
Sharvari: How do you stay calm during a competition?
You can never be calm at a competition. If you accept the fact that calmness is never going to come, that's half the job done. When you accept the storm inside you, then you can go on to do your job. But if you keep fighting it, you can never do your job. So, let your heart do its job and you do yours. Don't fight with your heart to slow down to let you relax. You have to find your way through the storm.
Sharvari: What are your hobbies?
I like everything associated with art, be it music or paintings or even interior designing and architecture. I like what humans can do, that's why I love sports because that's what humans can do, they perform and raise the bar every time. I like to paint. I enjoy listening to music.
Shreeya: It is said that shooting is 90 per cent in the mind and 10 per cent in the body. Is that true?
It's sort of both. You can control your mind through your body or you can go to your body through the mind. For example, if I am scared, I will be sitting like this [head hunched or legs folded]. I can either fight with my mind or show it through the body and then eventually reach my mind. So it's both.
Arjun: How did the World No. 1 ranking feel like?
It was amazing feeling, to know you are the best. But after that, I had some poor performances because of that same feeling. I began thinking about the outcome. It was an important lesson for me. I missed out on my Commonwealth and Asian Games medals. When you are shooting to win medals, it never works. And the worst thing is that there is a subconscious mind that keeps thinking about it [medals]. You don't realise it at that time, but after losing, you know.
Arjun: What's the ideal number of hours one has to put in for practice?
There is no number to it. It's not a doctor's prescription that I can tell you to take this tablet in the morning or evening for five days and then you will be a world champion [laughs]. You must make your own plan. You must jot down your own plan. You all are still studying, so how can I tell you to shoot for seven hours a day? You must find the best possible daily plan for yourself.
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