CHENNAI: Three consistent years had earned pistol ace Jitu Rai a reputation. Living proof that hard work and determination generate success. With his calm demeanour and hunger, the 29- year-old won medals in testing events, including the World Championships, World Cups and Commonwealth Games.
Nothing came easy, Jitu simply made it look that way. Like most athletes, he was keen on an Olympic medal. Fans and the shooting fraternity were also expecting another eye-catching performance. Unfortunately it was a forgettable outing.
Jitu narrowly got into the 10m air pistol final. But he was first man out. A few days later, he had a second chance in his pet event — 50m pistol. And this time, the outcome was no different. Having been in fray for final contention until the end, a lapse in concentration at a crucial phase cost him the qualification.
The Rio chapter is history, but still fresh in Jitu’s mind. He is disappointed to have squandered a rare chance to make his dream come true. But all is not lost as he is keen to bounce back and his hunger to succeed remains intact. “The experience was quite good but I couldn’t achieve what I had in mind. I was highly positive ahead of the Games and was set for the marquee event but unfortunately, I couldn’t win,” Jitu told Express from Lucknow.
The man who was making his Olympic bow took a philosophical view at his endeavour. “I guess it was fate, such is life,” he said.
Jitu, who is originally from Nepal, revealed that he went home for few days to relax and refresh his mind. “They (family) want to talk about shooting but I didn’t allow them to do the same. It was nice and refreshing.”
Jitu was recently conferred with the Khel Ratna Award for his outstanding contribution to Indian sports. “I’m extremely happy to have won the award.Having seen others win the award in the past, it’s still unbelievable to know I’m part of that group.”
Jitu has now turned his focus to the ISSF World Cup Final to be held in Italy next month. “I’m already looking ahead. I will just try to analyse what went wrong and set it right for future assignments. I have to keep focus and start fresh,” he stated.