Monday, August 9, 2010

World Shooting Champion Tejaswini Sawant returns home

World champion Tejaswini Sawant was a picture of confidence, as she patiently explained that the upcoming Commonwealth Games would not pose such a serious challenge for the world beating Indian shooters, on her return from Munich here on Monday. “It feels great. We had worked hard in training and the focus was on shooting a personal best. I am glad that we could execute the plan. Am very happy,'' said Tejaswini, who had been crowned the World champion in women's rifle prone event on Sunday in the 50th World shooting championship. She shot a world record 597 in the individual event, after a 595 during the team competition. It was an impressive climax for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games double gold medallist from Kolhapur, as Tejaswini had reached a personal best of 594 in Hannover, a few days before the World championship. The barrel-matching ammunition that she picked up at the Lapua factory in Germany played its part in helping her shoot close to perfection in the 50-metre event.

The Kazakh coach Stanislav Lapidus, taking care of the Indian rifle shooters, said that the 29-year-old Tejaswini was a very good student and had executed the hard training in a systematic fashion to emerge the World champion. “She was struggling with her form some time back. We made a special plan for her training. It was not an easy decision to skip two World Cups. “Not many shooters can follow my programme. We call it black war. She had the patience to go through it, and I had no doubt that her scores would go up. We went back to the basics and built her form,'' explained coach Lapidus, quite pleased that four other shooters had scored their personal best.

Fine contribution

Gagan Narang won the air rifle bronze and Hariom Singh won the Olympic quota place in men's rifle prone, in projecting the fine contribution of the Kazakh coach, who also had the pleasure of seeing his trainee Olga Dovgun win the women's prone bronze behind Tejaswini. Union Sports Minister Dr. M.S. Gill received the World championship medallists at his residence on Monday, and gave a patient hearing to Narang when he expressed his agony at being overlooked for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award despite a consistently brilliant track record spread over many successive seasons.

Coach Lapidus observed that Narang's bronze weighed heavier than the gold, owing to the mental condition of the shooter before the competition, when he was a shattered man. “In my 35 years experience it was the most difficult exercise, to push him up. Gagan is very sensitive, but he can extract the best out of himself even in a difficult situation,'' remarked Lapidus. On her part, Tejaswini handled the television cameras with aplomb, and said that she would work towards getting the Olympic quota place, after having missed the bus for Beijing.

She dedicated her gold medal to her father who had died following illness during the Commonwealth shooting championship in February this year. Tejaswini chose to stay in the championship and compete for the sake of the team. That grit has eventually seen her achieve the dream of any athlete, of being the World champion.

“I have achieved everything because of him. It was his dream. Am happy to have accomplished it,'' said Tejaswini, even as she expressed gratitude to Olympic Gold Quest and Sahara for ensuring that all her financial requirements for technical support were met so that she could completely focus on her training. Talking about home advantage, Tejaswini said it helped to a great extent, though the Indian shooters have been able to assert their ability, on the best stages, around the world. If the Dr. Karni Singh range in Tughlakabad is thrown open to the Indian shooters at the earliest, they would train purposefully to achieve the goal of winning the lion's share of medals in the Commonwealth Games scheduled from October 3 to 14.


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