THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It would be customary for shooters to take a few minutes off to unwind themselves after giving their all at a shooting competition. But not if you are Ronak Pandit. The 29-year-old had just unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the finals of the men's 25m rapid fire pistol before he rushed to the 10m range upstairs to watch Heena Sidhu win gold in women's 10m air pistol.
“What more could I have asked for on the day of our second wedding anniversary,” said the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who tied the knot with Heena, also a 2010 Commonwealth gold winner, in Panchkula in 2013.
Ronak also happens to be Heena's coach, which understandably doubled his delight. “I have been trying my level best, but cannot really quantum how much my coaching has helped Heena,” said Ronak, who had to crane his neck to keep an eye on proceedings at a packed range.
“It is not like somebody of the calibre of Heena really needs a coach. You just need to point out some mistakes here and there,” said Ronak. “We had a few setbacks coming to the last half of 2014. So, it was important for Heena in that aspect to begin the year with a gold at the 35th National Games,” said Ronak, who heads the Ronak Pandit Shooting Centre in Mumbai.
Heena herself is confident of improving ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. “Ronak and I have already identified a few areas where I can improve, like my initial shots,” the 25-year-old said after bagging the gold.
“We are also trying our luck with the 25m pistol this year, which is an entirely new event for Heena,” said Ronak. “It is a new chapter in my career. I think the air pistol and sport pistol complement each other pretty well,” added Heena.
Talking about the shooting academy they run, Ronak said he plans to train starters at his academy later. “Our aim right now is to handle only a handful of national and international shooters. I was pleased to see my trainee Shradha Nalamwar win gold in 25m pistol,” said Ronak.
But doesn't he feel fatigued to handle his own career as well as his partner's? “My absolute priority right now is Heena, but sometimes I try to practise after she finishes her's,” Ronak said. “Sometimes, you would have to do that extra bit if you need to bring home two medals,” he added jokingly.