HYDERABAD: Shooting has fascinated Rashmee Rathore since childhood for the simple reason that both her father Captain YS Rathore and grandfather Lt Col RS Rathore were from the Army. Her love for the sport began at the age of 13 and 16 years later, 29-year-old Rashmee has fulfilled a long cherished dream by winning the 55th national skeet shooting individual gold in Delhi on Monday. The Hyderabadi girl shot 67 out of 75, beating the likes of national record holder Arthi Singh Rao (Air India) and Saniya Shaik (Chhattisgarh) to win the medal.
“I was mentally strong and well prepared this time. It is a long cherished dream. It has been a struggle all these years to reach the top,” said Rashmee. In the process, she has become the first woman from the State to win a gold in the national shooting championship. Rashmee’s previous best were silver medals in the 2007 and 2008 championships.
Although the city has one of the best shooting ranges at the Central University complex in Gachibowli, there is hardly any activity. But like a lone ranger, Rashmee practised at the range for hours together. “It was tough at times. It needed tons of patience as there was no competition. There was no ammunition, no coach and there was no financial support. But my single-minded devotion kept me in this sport,” said Rashmee, who narrowly missed the Olympic quota by two points last year in the World Cup.
Rashmee has participated in four World Cups. In fact, she quit her lucrative job in the Standard Chartered Bank and concentrated on shooting. “When I saw good improvement in my shooting in 2006, I quit my job and got into full time shooting even though I knew it would be a hard, long journey,” she recalled.
Her decision proved right as soon she topped State level tournaments and made a mark in the national championship. She even earned a place in the Indian team and her first international debut was in 2008 in Germany. Last year, she was close to making it to the 2012 London Olympics. “It was a narrow miss. I thought if I had proper coaching, I could have made it to London Olympics,’’ regretted Rashmee who recently came under the wings of an Italian coach. “It was my father who helped me in my training all these years but this year, I trained under the Italian coach. It was of great help. I could improve my consistency,’’ she said.
Incidentally, both Rashmee and world record holder Gagan Narang, who qualified for the London Olympics, are products of the Bhavans College, Sainikpuri. “We are good friends. He has always been a great inspiration,’’ Rashmee said.
Having missed the Olympics, Rashmee’s priority is the World Cup. “I think this gold at the Delhi meet will do a world of good to me in World Cup,” she hoped.