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Long road to Paris

Updated on: 16 June,2024 06:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Subodh Mayure |

50m rifle 3-position shooter Swapnil Kusale’s father sold two plots of land and took a R25 lakh loan to help son pursue his shooting pursuits; coach Deepali Deshpande confident Kolhapur lad won’t succumb to Olympics 2024 stage pressure

Long road to Paris

Swapnil Kusale. Pic/Suresh Kusal

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Long road to Paris

A good performance at any level is hailed and comes into focus far more than the hard yards the family members put in to help the sportsperson reach a high level of competition. In a couple of months from now, India shooter Swapnil Kusale could well be glowing after a creditable performance at the July 26-August 11 Paris Olympics.

Training in France

Currently, 29-year-old Kusale, the 50m rifle 3-position shooter, is practising in France with the Indian team. His father Suresh, a headmaster at Vidya Mandir, Ghotawade, in Kolhapur district, told mid-day how he managed to help his son pursue his shooting ambition. “Shooting is a very costly sport. Weapons are expensive and I had to spend a major part of my salary on Swapnil’s shooting. I took a R25 lakh loan and sold two plots of land to manage his expenses,” said Suresh.

Suresh Kusale and Deepali DeshpandeSuresh Kusale and Deepali Deshpande

Kusale is the sole Maharashtra representative in India’s Paris-bound shooting squad. “Swapnil has been working so hard for the last 14 to 15 years! He has always aimed to represent the country at the highest level and win medals. Looking at his determination and the hard work put in, I am confident he will do well in Paris,” said Kusale Sr.

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The Olympics is a big stage, the biggest stage of all and apart from skill, temperament is critical too. Kusale’s coach—former Olympian Deepali Deshpande—reckoned that Kusale is not an athlete who succumbs to pressure. She insisted he is ready for the big task at Paris. “He is well prepared and ready for the challenge; is in good form as well. He has the calibre to perform at that level and the ability to clinch a medal in Paris. He is a technically sound shooter with big experience under his belt. He will carry that confidence to Paris,” said Deshpande, who clinched a silver at the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

Kusale’s special qualities

Kusale made it to the Paris Olympics at the final selection trials held last month in Bhopal. In 2022, he won the Olympic quota berth for the men’s 50m rifle 3-position event through a fourth place finish at the Cairo World Championship. Kusale, who won gold in the World Cup at Baku and Delhi in 2022 and 2021 respectively, possesses some special qualities. “He never gets excessively technical and doesn’t think about the consequences. He catches that feel, believes in his instinct and performs. He possesses an uncomplicated mind; doesn’t get into too much detail. His mind is clear and once he is on track, there is no need to worry and that is his advantage,” Deshpande said of the shooter who began his journey at Krida Prabodhini in Nashik.

Dwelling into his personality, Deshpande revealed: “He is shy and not a very social person. He lives in his own world and totally focused on his goal. He should just go by his natural instinct. I know that’s his strength. The more he thinks about himself the better. He must [take] one shot at a time and perform with the same patience, because it’s not over till it’s over,” remarked  Deshpande, who represented India at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

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