NEW DELHI, May 17: Veteran Indian rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput is all set for his third Olympic appearance. Rajput, who will be representing India in the 50m Rifle 3 Position event in Tokyo, has travelled to Croatia for the Indian team’s training cum competition trip, before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics.
Rajput spoke to TimesofIndia.com from the plane, before it took off for Zagreb, Croatia on Tuesday, May 11. A 13 member Indian contingent left for an over two month trip. The 40 year old Rajput is confident of a good show by the Indian shooters in Tokyo.
“We have a great chance to win a handful of medals. Our squad is strong,” Rajput told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview before leaving for Zagreb.
“I am heading to Croatia for my practice and training. I am all set and prepared. After finishing my training in Croatia, I will move to Tokyo. I am taking all precautions and following NRAI protocols. I am taking care of my diet. I have been given a physical exercise plan chart. I am following that as well,” Rajput said.
RAJPUT SAYS YES TO OLYMPICS
Should the virus-postponed Tokyo Games be cancelled? As per a recent survey, more than 80 percent of the Japanese population are against the Olympics being held this year due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
For an athlete though there is nothing bigger than the Olympics. Rajput echoed that sentiment, saying the Olympics should go ahead with all the precautionary measures in place.
“Olympics should happen with all the safety protocols in mind. All rules and regulations should be followed. There shouldn’t be any carelessness. We all have worked hard to reach this stage. Olympics should happen. All I am requesting shooters and every athlete to please follow protocols. If you do so, things will go smoothly,” Rajput, a four time Asian Games medallist further told TimesofIndia.com.
“Our hard work shouldn’t go in vain. Safety should be the first priority for the Olympics,” he further said.
“Every shooter should maintain social distancing, wash hands, use sanitisers and wear masks. They should just focus on shooting.”
“I WAS THERE” – RAJPUT RECALLS BINDRA’S HISTORIC BEIJING GOLD
The Tokyo Olympics will be Rajput’s third Olympic appearance. He represented India at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games before this. He featured in two events in Beijing – 50 m rifle prone (finished 26th with 591 points) and 50 m rifle 3 positions (finished 26th with 1162 points). In 2012 in London, Rajput scored 1161 and finished 26th in the 50 m rifle 3 positions event.
“The Olympics is a different ball game. You need different preparation and psychological boost and a different mentality for the Olympics,” Rajput said.
Rajput recalled the 2008 Olympics when Abhinav Bindra created history by clinching a first-ever individual gold medal in Indian Olympics history and termed it his ‘favourite Olympic moment’ of his life so far.
“I am proud to say that I was there to witness that historic moment. My favourite moment in the Olympics was when Abhinav Bindra won the gold. I was cheering and clapping for him from the stands. What a moment that was. I still cherish it,” he said.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) named a 15-member Indian shooting team for the Tokyo Olympics, across disciplines. They have also named two reserve shooters for each of the disciplines (barring the Mixed Team events).
Indian shooters have been doing very well in competitions across the world. There is no doubt that shooting is one sport which has multiple Indian medal contenders.
So, who is the big favourite to win a medal this time? Rajput refuses to single out anyone.
“All shooters are favourites to win a medal, even I am a favourite. I have experience and I will make it count in Tokyo,” Rajput signed off. (Courtesy: ToI)