I have always made Harvinder train with able-bodied athletes: Coach Gaurav Sharma
The Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist Harvinder Singh's coach, Gaurav Sharma, speaks exclusively to The Bridge.
The 30-year-old defeated South Korea's Kim Min Su in a one arrow shoot-off in the bronze medal match to earn a podium finish at the Yumenoshima Final Field in Tokyo.
"I am very happy for Harvinder. He has won the first medal for India in archery at the Olympics or Paralympics, and I cannot be more proud that he is my student. He has worked very hard over the years, and he deserves this," said the Harvinder's coach, Gaurav Sharma, to The Bridge.
A visibly ecstatic Sharma was quick to point out that Harvinder has always been someone who brings out his 'A game' under pressure.
"He has always been someone who takes his game up a notch under pressure. The three shoot off wins today on his way to the medal is a testament to that. He won the same way during his 2018 Asian Para Games gold. It is his thing. He is a pressure player," Sharma said during a telephonic conversation.
Harvinder performs well under pressure can also be deduced by the fact that he had finished a lowly 21st during the Individual Ranking Round. While it does not matter now, Gaurav Sharma was certainly not impressed by his ward then.
"I called him up after the Ranking Round and scolded him. Yes, it does not matter now, but I was speechless then. He simply said that he lost his focus then. The only thing I advised him was to stay focused on the process of shooting. Take it arrow by an arrow, and not to think far ahead," said the coach who could not travel to Tokyo with Harvinder.
Though Gaurav Sharma could not travel to Tokyo, he was connected to Harvinder almost 24x7, thanks to technology.
"We would talk every day on video calls, and I would pass on tips if I had any. Yes, I was not physically present with him, but I was always with him mentally," the coach says.
Sharma revealed that Harvinder used to train with able-bodied athletes, and he used to put him through the same training routine as the able-bodied athletes.
"I have never considered him to be a para-athlete. I have always made him train with the able-bodied athletes and put him through the same training sessions as them to improve his physical strength."
Though Harvinder is pursuing his PhD, he never let that affect his game or vice versa.
"He is doing his PhD. For him, both his studies and archery were the same and used to give an equal amount of time to both, even just before the Paralympics. Since he was good at studies, he always had the concentration power; it was just his shooting that we worked on," Gaurav Sharma explained.