CHENNAI: After a period of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the coast has been cleared for Olympic-bound Indian shooters to leave for Croatia. Everything they've touched has turned into gold in recent years, but there was a danger that they might miss out on much-needed polishing ahead of the mother of all events — the Olympics.
Rifle ace Anjum Moudgil was forced to train at her hometown in Chandigarh, where she admitted that the sessions were far from ideal. But with the Europe trip on, the shooters have the chance to polish their skills and get into competitive mode yet again. And Anjum is looking forward to it.
"The condition (in India) right now is really not okay. My family was not happy with the idea of me travelling to Pune, Bhopal or Delhi for training. We wish to train with the whole team. I feel very safe going there (Croatia). It's (being away from home) is just a small sacrifice and this (exposure tour) is required," Anjum, who's currently with the team in Delhi, said in a media interaction organised by Sports Authority of India. The team is due to depart on May 11 and take part in European Championships and the World Cup that was announced by ISSF on Friday.
The likes of Anjum and the rest of the young shooters have raised the bar in recent years. There's healthy competition among the shooters and that has, in turn, helped them push each other and win medals on a regular basis. The TOPS athlete feels that the bonhomie that they share brings a lot of positive energy.
"Shooting is an individual sport. This culture of training together started just a few years ago. Being with the team gives you plenty of confidence. We have games amongst ourselves, based on the number of shots... We have discussions. It builds a positive environment," Anjum, who is employed by Punjab Police, said.
Talking about the team, Elavenil Valarivan was chosen ahead of Anjum for Olympics in the 10m air rifle discipline, an event in which the latter had bagged a silver medal during the 2018 World Championships. That feat had also helped India secure a quota. Owing to Anjum's pale displays since that high and Elavenil's rise to No 1 in world rankings, NRAI was compelled to make the hard decision. Anjum has made peace with the decision and said that she has turned her focus in her pet event 50m rifle 3 positions. "Due to NRAI policy, I didn't get picked. I'm okay with the decision."
Most shooters usually bear that monastic look. Calm by nature, Anjum always tends to carry a poker face. Having learnt to keep her emotions in check over the years, she is hopeful that she can retain composure during the Olympics.
"I feel the Olympics and World Championships are equally tough, but the pressure is more during the Olympics. I don't want to put pressure on myself. I just want to give my 100 per cent, do what I have been doing for the last few years. I'll just take it like any other event," the 27-year-old, who'll also be taking part in mixed event during the Olympics, said.
From raising funds for the needy in her home state to auctioning off her prized paintings in order to raise money for small-time workers in sports circle, Anjum has been doing her bit during these tough times.
And she feels it's vital to lend a helping hand right now. "Many young people look up to us. I would have liked to have been on the ground and helped but I can't for now. We can do a lot, spread the word, make some donations. It's very important," she added.