14-year-old Manavaditya recently won a silver medal in the trap event at the Fifth Junior International Shotgun Competition at Orimatiila, Finland. (Photo: Ravi Choudhary)
When kids get their hands on guns, the consequences can be quite dreadful. But certainly not in the case of Manavaditya Singh Rathore.
This shooting prodigy fired his first shot at the age of 10. For someone who has Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore for a father and mentor, this is hardly surprising. The 14-year-old recently won a silver medal in the trap event at the Fifth Junior International Shotgun Competition at Orimatiila, Finland. He speaks about his achievement with the excitement of a child and the confidence of a seasoned shooter.
“I prepared for it for about a week before the competition. I don’t really have a coach. I train myself and my father helps me out frequently,” says Manavaditya. “Though I have to admit I was nervous before the finals,” he, sharing how he celebrated his victory by having dinner at a restaurant in Finland.
Young Milo’s day, (that’s what he’s lovingly called at home), begins at six when like most children he reluctantly crawls out of bed to get ready for school. After studying for six hours, it is time for him study some more—something his father insists he must do. Post homework, it is play time.
“I love this part of the day as I get to play football,” says Manavaditya, a die-hard Manchester United fan.
Swimming is another love. It also keeps him fit, he says, a prerequisite for his shooting. “My holidays are usually dedicated to practising on the range. That is, if I don’t have a school unit test. I train for about four hours and then retire to my bedroom and into the world of Swedish House Mafia,” he smiles.
Though most shooters would give their eye-teeth to be trained under a professional like Rajyavardhan, the father–son duo do have their share of disagreements.
Like every teenager, Manav too doesn’t like being told what to do, even when it comes to shooting. He says at times he does gets irritable when his father, according to him, ‘overdoes’ it. The court of appeal in such cases, he says, is his mother, Gayatri, to whom he then promptly goes and complains.
“Manav is by-and-large a dedicated student at school and at the range. He really does have it in him to become a shooter, perhaps much better than I am,” says Rathore senior. “I am always there to guide him but sometimes he tells me off and I suddenly realise, he’s still just a kid. He needs his time and space to be,” admits Rathore.
This home-bred champ, who earlier used the shooting range as a picnic spot is now taking it as a serious shooter’s paradise. Manav was interested in shooting from an early age, says Rathore.
“Even when the gun was too big for him, he used to insist on shooting with the biggest and heaviest one from my collection,” he laughs. “Maybe that’s why he has picked up so fast and can now shoot perfect targets,” he says.
Well, like they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.