Armed with the experience of staying afloat in the face of adversities, battle-hardened Indian shooter Sanjeev Rajput promptly pressed the “reset button” after learning of the Olympics’ postponement. In an unprecedented move, the Olympic chiefs on March 24 postponed the Tokyo Games to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the world.
While the decision was welcomed by the sporting fraternity, it also forced all athletes to redraw their plans and revisit their strategies. World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rajput has experienced his share of adversities – from Olympics selection snub, upheaval in personal life to unemployment. “This is a very different situation, an extraordinary situation where sports couldn’t have happened at all. The well-being of human lives is above everything else,” ace rifleman Rajput told PTI of the health crisis that has claimed more than 21,000 lives across the world.
“Yes, I have been preparing for the Olympic Games for more than three years, hoping to go there and perform at the biggest stage. “But we simply don’t have any choice now but to postpone the Olympics. I support the decision, we know it is for our well-being,” the 39-year-old rifle ace said. Confined to his flat in Faridabad, which is close to the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, Rajput is now doing all he can at home.
“Of course we must remain indoors for the next three weeks or till the time the situation improves. But I am doing dry practice (or dry firing) at home besides yoga and meditation,” Rajput, who was dropped from the 2016 Olympic team at the expense of a shotgun shooter, said. During dry practice, the shooter fires a fireman (on an object hung on a wall) without live ammunition. Rajput secured his Tokyo quota in Rio de Janeiro last year when he gunned down a silver medal in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions event.
Since the 2008 Games, he has secured an Olympic quota four times on the trot. Formerly with the Indian Navy, Rajput has faced the highs and lows of life with dignity, never complaining about the problems that knocked on his door for no fault of his.
Asked about the changes to his plans now that the Olympics have been pushed to next year, the shooter from Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, stressed on “peak performance”. “Peak performance is something that needs a lot of emphasis.
It means we follow the plans designed for us and peak at the right time, which is the Olympics in this case,” he said. Rajput hoped that things normalise in the coming weeks and he resumes his training at the Dr Karni Singh Range, where he took part in a selection trial recently.