Eye on the prize: Apurvi Chandela
Shooting is a testing sport that entails an extensive skill set. How did you get started with it? What role does your family play in your career?
Well initially I was never too inclined towards shooting as I was interested in other things, but the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal won by Abhinav Bindra changed everything. I started developing a fondness towards the sport. I scored a perfect 10 in one of my first trials with a rifle at a local shooting range. Watching this, my family was incredibly supportive of this new vocation, so much so, that my father gifted me a rifle while my uncle built a shooting range in our backyard for me to practice.
Who has had the biggest impact on shaping you up as a competitive shooter?
My family’s support and my first mentor, Rakesh Manpat’s guidance. They have been the constant support system in my life. My family made sure that there was no dearth of facilities and my mentor took care of the technical aspect of my game. I don’t think a successful career in shooting would have been possible without their help.
Talking about your training, what type of practice regimen do you follow? How does an average week of training look like?
I train almost six hours a day, and also practice a lot of meditation and yoga for mental fitness and concentration.
Do you have any pre-match or post-match ritual that you follow?
Shooting has a lot to do with focus. You need to have nerves of steel to be stable in high-pressure situations and train your mind to steer clear of all distractions. I practice yoga and meditation before any big match, both of which have helped me maintain my composure during tense moments. Post-match, it’s all about reflecting on the performance and moving ahead.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the sport?
My father once told me that “The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for; so value what you have, always stay humble and remember that there is no substitute for hard work.”
Who do you look up to in the sport, or who do you aspire to be like in the future?
Most certainly Abhinav Bindra, what he has done for the sport is unparalleled. He has motivated many of us to take up the sport and excel in the same. Just like him, I too one day would want to have a podium finish.
What do you like to do when you’re not shooting? What hobbies do you have?
My hobbies include reading and travelling. I also love to play basketball when I am not training for an upcoming major tournament. I have three dogs at home, so playing with them is my way of unwinding after a long day of practice.
What are some ideas you have for making the sport better in India?
I think more shooting academies by the government is the need of the hour. Shooting is a very expensive sport so it needs a lot of aid from the ministry. Tapping the talent and nurturing them at a nascent stage would help to create a pool of talent for the future. I also feel current and ex-professional shooters who have represented the country should come forward as mentors to the next generation.
What accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your athletic career so far?
I think winning the gold at the World Cup in Munich, and moving to world’s number one would definitely be right up there, also winning the bronze at the Commonwealth Games was a big feat. In addition, winning the Gold Medal in 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games has been the most significant win, along with the gold medals I won in Delhi.
If you weren’t a shooter, what would you be doing?
I think I would have probably become a sports journalist.