NEW DELHI: The finalists in the 50m rifle 3 positions of the XII Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Masters shooting competition ambled towards the starting line inside the Finals Hall of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The heavy equipment — lowers and stiffened jackets forced them into an ungainly walk. All eyes were on Anjum Moudgil while the field also included heavy hitters like the seasoned Tejaswini Sawant and Anjali Bhagwat. However, as the dust settled, Elizabeth Susan Koshy emerged the unlikely winner.
She held her nerves throughout, even during transitions as she recorded a score of 460.1, outclassing Tejaswini, who claimed silver for Maharashtra with 455.6 while Hema KC of Gujarat won bronze with 444.5. Elizabeth had earlier qualified sixth for the eight-woman final with a modest qualification-round score of 1161. In the final, she was fourth after the first 10 shots but took the lead after the second 15-shot prone round and never looked back.
Elizabeth was a relieved woman. Once considered one of the brightest young talents, she has endured a difficult time over the last two years. “I’m glad. I can now call up my father and tell him that I won gold.”
Such calls had dried up post 2016. One of the main reasons behind the dip in form was the sudden departure of former national rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus. “Lapidus was almost like my backbone. After his departure prior to the Rio Olympics, I felt empty. He was one of the main people behind my rise to No 1 spot in the country.”
The 25-year-old still does not have a personal coach, unlike most in the national circuit. However, the South Asian Games gold winner has made the conscious decision of not using it as an excuse. “Initially, I kept thinking maybe that is the reason why I’m unable to recapture my old form. But I told myself not to use it as an excuse and just prove to people that I can do it all by myself.”
And things are looking up. In the last two-three trials, she has been making the finals. Today’s gold was another step in the right direction. Most importantly for Elizabeth, who trains in Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai, she has started getting that feeling back. “Only a shooter can understand what that feeling means. Your muscles are relaxed, you are in a good zone and remain prepared for the entire duration of a match. I have worked on the mental aspect and have trained myself to remain focused for the entire duration of 40 shots.”
Elizabeth’s lucky charm is her mother Sosa, who accompanied her daughter to the venue. A previous winner in 2017, she is not planning too far ahead. “The main thing for me is to make myself happy. I will participate in the upcoming trials but what’s most important is improving scores. Then, I believe things will fall into place on their own.”