THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rahi Sarnobat and Anisa Sayyed have been squaring off against each other in the 25m pistol event for some time now. But they are besties off the field, evident from the pleasantries they exchanged when the duo met at the shooting range on Sunday.
Though teammates in pairs events for Team India, 24-year-old Rahi and Anisa, nine years her senior, will be seen in contrasting colours of Maharashtra and Haryana, respectively, at the 35th National Games. “She is always full of energy and also a fun person to have around as teammate. She is a shooter I prefer to have on my team rather than the other way around,” said Rahi on Anisa, who returned the compliment. “It’s not as if it matters much who is competing against you when it comes to a sport like shooting. Once you start, it’s only me and my mind that I have to contest with,” said Anisa.
Anisa grabbed gold and Rahi the silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi while they exchanged their podium positions four years later in Glasgow. However, a bronze was all they yielded at the team event in 2014 Asian Games. “It was a mixed year for me in 2014. There was of course the medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games, but also injuries that I had to deal with,” Rahi said.
But disappointments aside, the duo are preparing for a decisive phase in their careers. “This is just the start of the season, but we are all tense as there are three competitions coming back-to-back in a very short span of time at this range,” said Anisa. “There is a dream of winning an Olympic gold. But we are taking one challenge at a time. The immediate objective is to qualify from the selection trials for the World Cups,” said Rahi.
Anisa believes the Indian team will produce a much better showing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. “I think we are going to have a better team this time around and also some of them who have experience on big occasions,” she said. “I believe our shooters now know what to do and more importantly what not to do at Olympics,” said Rahi, who hopes to be on a plane to Rio at least a month before the Summer Olympics to acclimatise to the conditions.
The two shooters were also in unison while showering praise on the new shooting range here. “This is easily the best shooting facility in the country as of now,” said Anisa, while Rahi added she feels that the people of Kerala and the streets here are more friendly than other parts of the country.