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Commonwealth Games

Mehuli Ghosh writes: '2018 CWG was biggest lesson of my life, very hurt shooting not in 2022 CWG'

Silver medallist from the last Commonwealth Games, shooter Mehuli Ghosh analyses what the non-inclusion of the sport in CWG 2022 means for India's shooters, the sport in general and for the overall medal tally.

Mehuli Ghosh Shooting
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Mehuli Ghosh won her first ever senior Shooting World Cup gold medal earlier this year. 

By

Mehuli Ghosh

Updated: 2022-08-25T14:55:33+05:30

What happened at the last Commonwealth Games was one of the biggest lessons of my life. I thought I had won the gold medal when I came up with the 10.9 shot and turned back to celebrate. But it turned out to be a huge misunderstanding. It was quite a while later that I was told I had only tied the score with Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso. By then I had lost my concentration and I had to be content with a silver medal on my CWG debut.

I carry that lesson with me everyday. I still don't move after my final shot. I wait for the scores to come up till I disarm my gun.

The last time the CWG happened in Australia, it was my debut at such a multi-sport Games. What a memorable out-of-the-world experience that was! Even if it was a silver medal I came back home with. Just to stay in the Games village was such a lot of fun. I went to the badminton courts and hung out with Lakshya Sen, we know each other for a long time. We would also go to the Youth Olympics together later that year.

There were a lot of fun things to do in Gold Coast - I did roam around the beaches and saw kangaroos after my event - but I had to tell myself I was there for my game, not to just have fun. It was my first such trip, I had gone along with my seniors who were all very good to me.

I have been following how our wrestlers - Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Deepak Punia - have been helping us surge up the medal tally this time around at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but surely had shooting been included, we would have been in the top three by now.

All of us from the shooting community are very hurt that shooting is not part of the programme this time, it is the first time that this has happened. I feel all sports should be included in these Games to make it fair to all nations.

We are sad also because this a big chance lost for many of us. CWG and Asian Games are the events not just us, but the whole of India, look forward to. This year, with the Asian Games also postponed, there's nothing to look forward to.

Even though the competition may be harder in the World Cups and World Championships, there is a different prestige attached to medals at these Games. The CWG is one event where we usually go with full confidence to win a rich medal haul. It is also a launching pad for many young shooters, who want to get there name up there in the pantheon of greats. I hope the next CWG sees a return for the sport.

Returning to old form

The non-inclusion of shooting in the 2022 CWG is especially hurtful for me because it is just now that I have managed to return to my old form.

I usually don't rate any of my achievements as being more than any other, but the World Cup gold medal I won in South Korea last month was different.

The struggles and uncertainty that I have endured over the last two years and more seemed to all have come to an end that day. Even in the individual event, I failed to qualify for the final by just 0.1 seconds. Then when the Mixed event came along, I just had one thought in my mind - I had to win the gold.

Not many people know the amount of pain I have been through in recent years. When the pandemic came along and shooting came to a stop all over the world, I went into a dark place both physically and mentally. After it resumed, qualification to the Tokyo Olympics was all that mattered. I had chances - even if they were very low - to make it to the Olympics and I was determined to give it my all even if there was a 1% chance for me to qualify.

But this was the time I also had my knee injury. It was so bad that I could not even stand to shoot ten shots in one go. But the Olympics were on the line, so I endured the pain and ignored the injury, giving myself no recovery time.

The Olympics came and went, but my future seemed clouded. I had no idea what competition to prepare for and there were a lot of questions in my head. Our Tokyo Olympics shooting contingent, which is very strong and talented, also failed to live up to the expectations heaped on them.

I then decided to take professional help to work on my knee injury, because that had introduced an imbalance in my game. I went back to work on my basics and start from zero. I changed my base to Hyderabad.

The Paris Olympics are on my mind all the time.

For now, I just wish I was with all the others in the Birmingham Games village. I'll be sure to watch PV Sindhu's matches tomorrow, I hope she wins another gold.

(As told to Dipankar Lahiri)

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