Everything was going in her favour, but Heena Sidhu still felt her finger stopping at the trigger, on the last shot in the World Cup Final in Germany.
“I knew I was very close to the gold. I told myself that I don’t care about the medal any more.
“I focused on the technique and shot a 10. It was my signature shot. I had to just go and get it.
“That shot meant a lot more than the gold medal to me,’’ said Olympian Heena Sidhu, as she interacted with the media here on Wednesday.
There were no tears of joy, but Heena was quick to confess that she cried when she first read that Sachin Tendulkar was retiring.
The 24-year-old dentist from Patiala who is married to Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ronak Pandit, Heena was felicitated by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, at his residence on her return from Munich.
Heena, who had beaten the reigning World Champion Zorana Arunovic of Serbia for the women’s air pistol gold by an intimidating 5.2 points, in the elite competition for the leading shooters of the world, said that she had prepared hard for the competition, especially after the disappointment of the London Olympics.
New rules in mind
Yet, Heena conceded that she had to shoot smart, keeping the new rules in mind, and conserve some energy for the final in which the qualification scores did not count.
Heena also revealed that she wanted to have a steady start for the final, rather than resort to her usual “aggressive’’ approach which had not worked in the finals of two World Cups earlier in the season, when she had qualified with big scores of 389 and 388.
“I had two 8s in the first half of the qualification phase. I had not shot 8s in competition in a long time,’’ said Heena, as she recalled the calm with which she tackled the tricky situation to ensure qualification in the third place.
She gave credit to Ronak Pandit and coach Anatolii Piddubnyi of Ukraine for the strong preparation.
Looking ahead, particularly the packed season next year that will have the Commonwealth and Asian Games, Heena was frank to say that her focus would be to be at her best in the World Championship and win the Olympic quota place for Rio.
Heena recalled that there was a lot of drama before she made it to Munich for the competition, as she was forced to extend her visa for two days only after reaching Germany, as it was expiring on the day of her competition.
Her selection for the competition was in itself doubtfull as it depended on the late withdrawals of other shooters.
The NRAI president hoped that the brilliant performance of Heena, who followed rifle shooters Anjali Bhagwat and Gagan Narang apart from double trap marksman Ronjan Sodhi in winning the prestigious World Cup Final gold, would fetch better support from the government, for the sport in terms of preparation for the Rio Games.