Savinthana Devi is set to go great guns
Nursing a dream to be part of the Indian contingent at the Olympics one day, Savinthana Devi, the gold medal winner at the national meet organised by Gun for Glory Academy of National Rifle Association of India held in Pune last year, has resolved to make the Temple City proud.
Inspired by her adventure-loving grandfather and father, this commerce graduate always longed to wield the rifles and guns that adorned the walls of her home. But her family could not set aside the social norms that kept a girl child from touching a gun.
A chance to prove her mettle came when Savinthana Devi joined the National Cadet Corps in VIII Standard at St. Ignatius Convent, Tirunelveli. She opted for the Basic Leadership Camp (Shooting) and won a gold medal at the national level in rifle shooting. Still, she remembers, her father wanted to keep her away from the sport. When she shifted to Chennai to pursue higher education, she pleaded in vain to join the Chennai Rifle Club and make shooting her career.
She ultimately hit her target after marriage. Savinthana Devi gave herself a chance by joining the Madurai Rifle Club in 2002 and learnt the nuances of the sport.
Vel Shankar, secretary of the club, taught her the basics, principles and rules of pistol shooting. Later, she underwent weekend training for two months in Coimbatore under the guidance of a retired Navy officer.
After that there was not much looking back. She won gold medals at State meets held in Coimbatore, Chennai and Madurai, besides qualifying for the pre-nationals. In the midst of it all, she gave birth to two girl children and completed her postgraduate course in Labour Management.
Now, she juggles her time judiciously at the range and at home. Every day, she devotes two to three hours for practice. “Self-confidence and homework helped me to win gold at the Pune nationals," she says. "But I need more time to achieve at greater levels and I will find it."
Taboos and expectations are behind Savinthana Devi now, and she is optimistic about her sports career. “Luckily," she says, "I have 20 more years to prove myself, as women are allowed to participate in the events till 55 years.”