Anisa Sayyed talks about her journey from being the toast of the nation to a forgotten star

She was one of the heroines of the last Commonwealth Games, winning two gold medals. Anisa Sayyed was unable to ride on that momentum for a good life. It has been a struggle for her as she quit her Railways job in a hurry, hoping for better opportunity. Eventually, she ended up with nothing, and that has affected her a lot. She did shoot a national record 587 out of 600 in sports pistol in the World Cup in Fort Benning, USA in 2011, but did not have a matching final. Rahi Sarnobat surged ahead in that World Cup to win a medal and clinched the Olympic quota. The young Rahi, whom Anisa had beaten for the gold in the individual event in the last Commonwealth Games, went on to win a World Cup gold this season, which fetched her a reward of Rs.1 crore.

With good technical and financial support, the 33-year-old Anisa knows that she would deliver the medals on the world stage, but has been struggling to stay in the race. Sports has taught Anisa a lot, and strengthened her will to fight it out. Despite all the hurdles she looks forward to becoming the darling of the country yet again.

How happy or disappointed are you with the National silver medal?

I am happy to get the silver, considering the limited practice we had at the range before the National championship. I am happy for Haryana, as we swept all the medals in sports pistol. The scores are improving. I am not happy, as I had qualified on top with 585. I lost my rhythm as there was long delay before the final. I kept pleading that the light was not enough on the targets. Overall, I lost focus and intensity. Of course, I congratulate Anita Devi for shooting so well and winning the gold. I had won gold three years in a row before last year, which was not so good. I am getting better now.

After winning two gold medals in the last Commonwealth Games, you seem to have stagnated while other young shooters like Rahi Sarnobat and Heena Sidhu have moved forward to win World Cup gold medals.

I was unlucky not to make the Indian team for the London Olympics because of change of selection policy. If we have to win world class medals we need to train a lot better and require matching support. Both Rahi and Heena have a top class coach like Anatolii Piddubnyi taking care of them on a regular basis. They are very talented and don’t have to worry about having the best training. That is how the medals are won. I do not have sponsors and I don’t have a job. I can’t afford to spend about Rs.3000 every day for training on a regular basis. I too made the World Cup final with a score of 587, but I did not have the experience to handle it well. You learn from experience. I have gone through tough times, and I am better with the experience. I have gained maturity. I understand the world better now.

You left the Railway job and have not joined anywhere.

Yes, I am jobless for more than three years. Life had looked so good after the last Commonwealth Games. The next Games are coming around, and nothing has happened. I had to quit Railways for a lot of reasons. I was promised a good job in Haryana, but eventually I could not accept it because the offer was not good. I wonder why I still don’t have a good job. Maybe, I got carried away by the media attention, which took us from zero to hero. I am grateful to the media for making shooting and shooters so popular. My husband, who works in a private telecom company, is supporting me the best he can. A lot of things affect me mentally. Maybe, I have to train hard mentally as well.

As part of the national squad you must be getting good coaching from the experts.

Yes, I do. But the coach Pavel Smirnov, who helped Vijay Kumar win the Olympic silver has been posted in Bangalore by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It will be great if he is stationed in Delhi, as it will benefit a lot of shooters. We need to interact with him on a regular basis to ensure that we train well.

Jaspal Rana has been helping you as a coach.

He is a great help both technically and in terms of handling it mentally, as he has so much experience. He has a lot of shooters to take care and he has the responsibility of attending to the junior national squad. Without him I could not have reached this far and this score. I have got a new pistol and am getting used to it. I am looking forward to the big season and want to win the best medals again.