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'This is just the beginning of a great shooting career'

August 18, 2004 20:47 IST

Dr Gayatri Rathore, wife of Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, was delighted when her father-in-law Col. Laxman Singh Rathore called from Jaipur and broke the news that her husband had won the silver medal in the double trap shooting at the Athens Olympics.

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"I was naturally pleased about his performance. He had worked hard for it. The Indian army provided the necessary support to back him up. He has done India proud and we all are happy about it. It is an unforgettable achievement, but this is just the beginning," Dr Gayatri told Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

When did you meet Major Rathore?

I am uncomfortable with the question. All that I can tell you is that we have been married for seven years. We have a son, named Manav, and daughter, named Gauri. I met Major Rathore couple of years before our marriage.

How are you feeling after your husband's feat?

Naturally, I am happy. It is a proud moment nor just for me and members of our families but also the whole nation. I am happy because the whole country is celebrating his happiness and sharing our moments of joy. So it makes me feel more proud.

The cable operators' strike prevented you from seeing Major Rathore in action. How did you stay update with developments on the field?

Yes, it is true that the cable strike prevented me from seeing him in action, but I was getting information from Doordarshan News on regular basis. One of the DD sports reporters kept calling me and telling me the position after every ten shots were fired. I had firm belief that he would fight back well more then anything else.

Who broke the news to you that Major Rathore won the sliver medal?

My father-in-law, Col. Laxman Singh Rathore, called up from Jaipur to break the news. He had seen the entire shooting coverage and gave us a low down on what happened. We all felt elated.

In one of your interviews you have been quoted as saying that your husband had worked wonders?

No, I did not say that sentence. My mother-in-law read my interview in The Times of India and said I could not have said this sentence, because it was quite unlike me. I had said a few things but not this particular sentence. What I had said was that Major Rathore had achieved lot at the international circuit and he has defeated the same people who would be vying with him for the medal in the Olympics. The people he was to compete with are not invincible shooters. So, basically, he had to keep his cool and give a good fight.

Did you speak with him before the competition? What was the state of his mind before the event?

Yes, I spoke to him before the shooting. He seemed to be quite calm and contended. He was very cool. We did not talk about shooting in specific. I could make out that he was cool and sounded confident. He assured me that he would perform his best and I was also confident that he would do well.

Is it true that he has borrowed cool temperament from his mother?

(Laughs) Yes. Even though my mother-in-law is a housewife and teacher, she is an achiever. She feels that whatever you do you should do it with your whole heart and soul and do your level best. He has that spirit in him. More than his mother, Rathore was inspired by his nanaji [grandfather] Shri Dhum Singhji, a former Indian police officer who is no more. Had he been here today he would have been very proud of Major Rathore because it was him who inspired my husband. His nanaji was a very good sportsman himself. Even in his old age he could beat youngsters in a game of tennis by convincing margins. Nanaji did not like to lose and Major Rathore has this quality in him. Col. Rathore, his father and his Tauji [father's elder brother] were also good shooters themselves. Somewhere the genes have played a vital role in his victory.

Major Rathore now has an Olympic silver medal in his pocket. What's next?

He has the silver. That is great. But this is not the end, but just the beginning of a great shooting career. Those who lost in the finals are also brilliant shooters. They are all good in their skills. What matters is who is able to maintain his calm on the D-Day. I am sure he will have to struggle for the medals in other competitions.

Aren't you surprised that it was an all-Asian top three finish?

That happened today. It is true that the Asians are good in double trap shooting. But to reach the finals he had to compete with other good shooters from Italy, Australia, Britain and other countries. Since they faltered they could not reach the final. Rathore had a tough competition to reach the last eight. It just happened that the three medallists in this category were Asians.

There was no media blaze on Major Rathore and, as such, no pressure on him to perform well. Did that help?

In a manner of speaking, I would say yes. It was sort of a positive development. He was very particular about handling the media and he had catered for that as well. He was abroad for a long time. He was not interacting with the media much. He was focusing more on what he had to do and not on what the people are expecting out of him. The media too has been very supportive. Whatever answers were given were given through e-mails. So he knew how much to say and when to say.

How does it feel when you get congratulatory messages from people like the President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam, and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh?

It is the greatest honour that we can have, not just for Major Rathore alone but the whole family.

How are you going to celebrate?

 We plan to be together. It has been a long time since we've been together. It will be wonderful when the whole family comes together after he arrives in India with the rest of the contingent.

Did he have a strategy up his sleeves? Did you'll plan together?

When the children were asleep we did talk about the competition. He had planned out his complete scheduled right from the training till the D-Day, particularly the mental training, because it is essentially a mental sport. What matters in the end is how well you control your mind in the end.

And where did Dr Gayatri fit into the scheme of things?

(Laughs) Nowhere. I was just a wife to him and not doctor. Not as a doctor but as his life companion we used to discuss the way he feels about certain situations and how he would handle them. We discussed in detail how to maintain calm and remain unruffled. Most of our communication was on e-mail, particularly when he was training abroad. We could not have called on phone for long hours. So we expressed ourselves through e-mails. The family is now looking forward to meet him.

Is the Indian army also looking forward to meet him?

We got plenty of flowers from the army headquarters and Delhi army chief and other officers. We are thankful to all of them. Definitely, the Indian army has given him enough support and he would be with them as a serving officer. Without their help it would not have been possible. Shooting is an expensive sport. I thank the Indian army top brass once again.

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