Rahi Sarnobat, the first Indian shooter to win a pistol gold (25 metre) in an ISSF World Cup competition recently at Changwon, South Korea, said the next three years could turn out to be a vital period in her career.

Rahi will participate in two more ISSF World Cups this year — at Fort Benning, USA in May and at Munich in November. Her major events in 2014 are the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow, the Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea and the ISSF world championship in Granada.

Her Ukrainian coach Anatoli Puddubny has planned her training schedule and preparation in general for all these events leading to the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Mentored by Pune-based sports NGO Lakshya, sponsor Vascon and Gagan Narang’s Gun for Glory Academy, the 22-year-old shooter from Kolhapur credited her success in a challenging field largely to many months of training under Puddubny and her own confidence. “I was keen to make changes in my technique before the London Olympics, but I could not because of lack of sufficient time. But I have changed all that after the Olympics. Moreover, with the new rules wherein the finalists start at zero (points not carried forward from the qualification stage) I felt very comfortable and confident.

“The ISSF World Cup always attracts the best in the field, including the Olympic and World champions. Abhinav Bindra opened the minds of all shooters and I am sure my win will open the minds of my contemporaries,” said Rahi at a felicitation function organised by Lakshya at the Press Club Mumbai on Thursday.

She received a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti.

Rahi scored over local girl Kyeongae Kim 8-6 in the final to clinch the gold. “It was tough with the spectators clapping when Kyeongae took the lead in the fifth round of the final played in a duel format. But I took the sixth series and told myself that at the end of the last round the spectators would have to clap and applaud my win. I was assured of a medal after the sixth and held my nerve,” said Rahi.

Sports psychologist B.P. Bam said: “I have known her from the days she had not even lifted a weapon. She is a very matured shooter now, she will not bow to any challenge.”

More In: Other Sports | Sport