NEW DELHI: Snjezana Pejcic is engrossed reading a Stephen King novel. Having struggled to find her rhythm, the self-proclaimed voracious reader is taking solace in something she is fond of.
To understand her story, one has to dig into her recent history. In 2015, she won the bronze medal at the World Championship in Munich and five (two gold) in World Cups which saw her clinch the Female Shooter of the Year award. In 2016, she bagged three gold in World Cups and was heading into the Rio Olympics as one of the favourites.
After all those blazing runs, what followed was a disaster. In the 10m air rifle, she finished a disappointing seventh. Her fortune did not change in the other event (50m rifle 3P), with the world record holder in qualifiers (594), garnering a meagre 580 to miss the cut in the qualification round. And she is still looking to find answers having fluffed again at the ISSF World Cup here.
When interrupted, she puts up a brave face and offers a warm smile. Snjezana, who comes from Rijeka (which means river) in Croatia, draws inspiration from a river, which flows endlessly. “In sporting terms, the Olympic loss was the worst day of my life. Mentally, I couldn’t endure the test. I took it hard. But with time, you put things into perspective. You realise it’s not the end of the world. You live, you learn. It would have been easier to take the defeat if I had an average year going into the Games,” she adds.
A shooter by accident, who first held the gun at 13, Snjezana is astonished by the nature of the craft. “There are days like today (setback). And there are days when everything is working well for you. But one has to be persistent,” the 34-year-old notes.
It was in 2008 when Snjezana first experienced euphoria, an Olympic bronze in Beijing. It was one of the wins that inspired her country to give more attention to the sport. “Every moment is special but an Olympic medal speaks for itself. It was truly a great moment,” she recalls.
Shooters are globetrotters, something which makes Snjezana happy. “I really love to travel. It’s a win-win situation for me,” she says with a giggle. Visiting India for the first time, she is relishing her stay. “I really like it. I visited the Taj Mahal and it’s wow! It’s something special.”
Three cheers for Jitu
Jitu Rai claimed a bronze medal in the men’s 10m air pistol in the ISSF World Cup here. Japan’s Matsuda beat reigning Olympic champ Hoang Xuan Vinh of Vietnam to bag the gold medal. Jitu’s medal is India’s third individual medal in the competition after Pooja Ghatkar (rifle) and Ankur Mittal (double trap), who won silver on Monday.