After World Cup success Rahi guns for glory at Rio Games
Rahi Sarnobat, who created history recently in South Korea by becoming the first male or female pistol shooter from India to win a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup, says she generally does well in finals and rapid fire is her pet event.
"I am very good in finals. Rapid fire (and not precision) is my favoured thing," said the 22-year-old, at a felicitation function organised by her Pune-based sponsors 'Lakshya' and 'Vasucon', in Mumbai, on Thursday."
There are advantages as well as disadvantages under the new rules of shooting in which all finalists start on equal footing (with no points carried forward from the qualification stages)," said Rahi, who won the gold medal in 25m sports pistol event in Changwon, Korea, earlier this month.
Image: Rahi Sarnobat shows off her medal in Mumbai on Thursday
'After the fourth series, I was sure of a medal'
A team gold medallist and individual silver medallist in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Kolhapur-born Rahi, edged out Korean rival Kyeongae Kim 8-6 in the fight for the gold.
After two tied series, Rahi, who finished a distant 19th in the London Olympics last year, was first to get off the blocks in the third and opened up a two-point lead. But Kim hit back immediately, winning the next two series to take a 6-4 lead and push the Indian to the corner.
Facing a must-win situation, Rahi upped the ante while her opponent struggled to keep her composure and lost the sixth and seventh series 3-1 and 2-1 respectively to hand the gold to the Indian.
Rahi said her opponent, expectedly, got overwhelming support from the crowd during the competition and this made her very determined to have the last laugh.
"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 would get the maximum claps [for winning the gold]," she said.
Image: Silver medallist Rahi Sarnobat (L) and Linda Ryan (R) of Australia compete during the final of the singles 25m Pistol at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range during the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
'I want to focus on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games'
The young markswoman, who was not aware that she created history in Korea when she clinched the gold, is now focused on four big events to be held over the next three years.
"I wasn't aware that I am the first pistol shooter from India to achieve this feat till my teammates told me. But now I want to focus on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games (in Rio de Janeiro) after doing well in next year's World Championship (in Granada), Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow, Scotland) and Asian Games (Incheon, South Korea)," she said.
Rahi also complimented coach Anatoly Piddubnyl for her showing, saying the Ukrainian, employed by Lakshya and star rifle shooter Gagan Narang's 'Gun for Glory Academy', has freed her of other nitti-gritties of the sport.
"I am more comfortable training with him as he takes care of my problems. He makes plans and tells me what I should do and I do them. I don't have to worry about planning and assessing myself," she said.
Image: Rahi Sarnobat with her parents
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
"The support system I have in Pune made a big difference'
In the past few months she had been working with Piddubnyl at the academy and even preferred to skip the national camp as the Indian team does not have a foreign coach for pistol shooters.
"The support system I have in Pune made a big difference. In this tournament, I went out without bothering too much about the result and I am glad that I returned with a gold medal," she said.
Rahi is confident that similar to the boost she and other Indian shooters experienced in 2008 following Abhinav Bindra's epoch-making gold medal victory in the Beijing Olympics, her feat would inspire other shooters.
Sports psychologist B P Bam praised Rahi, whom he knows before she took to the sport, saying "she has matured as a shooter".
"Earlier her mind was clogged as she was trying to do too many things, but it is free now," said Bam, who has helped cricket icons Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in mental conditioning in the past.
Rahi was presented a cheque of Rs 5,00,001 by Ramesh Prabhu of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samarak Samiti on the occasion.
Image: Rahi Sarnobat is all smiles after India clinch the 25m Pairs Pistol team gold at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games
Photographs: Graham Crouch/Getty Images