Rahi rules the roost
Shooter recounts how she won gold despite recent rule changes
Rahi Sarnobat, who became India’s first ever pistol shooter to win a World Cup gold, said that she felt quite comfortable with the new rules introduced in shooting where one needs to shoot maybe 60-70 shots in the final.
“The new rules have advantages as well as disadvantages — all finalists start on an equal footing. I am very good in the finals and rapid fire is my forte. Also, because I have been practicing in the new format since November last year, I didn’t face any difficulty at the World Cup,” she said during a felicitation function organised by ‘Lakshya’ — her Pune-based sponsors — at the press club.
The Kolhapur-born girl was also presented a cheque for Rs 5,00,001 for winning the gold medal in the 25m-pistol event in Changwon, Korea last week.
Apart from her opponents, the 22-year-old also had to face an unusual challenge from the supporters who were, as per the new rule changes, allowed to applaud following shots.
The change, intended to make the sport more spectator-friendly, meant that Sarnobat’s rival in the final, local girl Kyeongae Kim, had the crowd cheering for her. However, brushing off the crowd’s effect, Sarnobat edged out Kim 8-6 to lift the gold. “Kim, expectedly, got overwhelming public support from the crowd during the competition. After the fourth series, I was sure of a medal. She got 95 per cent support when she won the fifth. I told myself… let her get as many claps now, but after the final round it is I who will get the maximum claps (for winning the gold),” said a confident Sarnobat.
After her feat at Changwon, Sarnobat now wants to concentrate on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “I wasn’t aware that I am the first pistol shooter from India to achieve this feat (winning gold at a World Cup) till my teammates told me. But now I want to focus on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic
Games. Before that I hope I’m able to do well in next year’s World Championship, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games,” Sarnobat said.
Crediting her 75-year-old coach Anatoli Piddubnyl for her feat, Sarnobat said: “In the past he has travelled with me for numerous events. But he couldn’t come with me to the World Cup. But I was constantly in touch with him. I am more comfortable training with him as he takes care of my problems. He makes plans and I execute them.”
Sarnobat, who gave the national camp a miss (under national coach Mohinder Lal) to train with Anatoli in Pune at the Gagan Narang’s Guns for Glory Academy ahead of the World Cup, said: “The medals for pistol shooting increased after a separate coach for pistol shooting was appointed. Until 2006-07 there was no specific coach for pistol shooting while there was a coach for rifle shooting and so they won more medals. But after 2007 when pistol shooting had coaches, the performances of pistol shooters too improved.”