Vignan aspires for a medal at the 2008 Olympics
Last year Kuppili Vignan Tej was on his way to Kerala for the all India G.V. Mavlankar shooting championships at Thodupuzha. A dreadful car accident caused by a head-on collision with a lorry after Anantapur not only had him seriously injured, but saw him fall short of the qualifying mark of 395 by two points. That mishap deprived him of a shot at glory, but this year, he was keen to see nothing came in the way. In the 2006 edition of the same championship at Asansol, Bengal, he came back with a vengeance, dismantling the men's 10m air rifle (peep) record of 389/400 posted by Kuldeep Singh in 2004. The Hyderabad lad went one up on that, registering 390/400.That qualified him for the National shooting championships at Indore from December 12 to 22, which is his next target. His practice is at home, on his own range and with much encouragement from his father, K.M. Rao, an IAS officer and himself a 10m air pistol shooter at the NCC level. "Going to the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh range at Gachibowli takes about four hours to and fro," says Vignan. Instead he spends the time more usefully at his home range. His father is his mentor, friend, philosopher, guide and role model and Vignan hopes to a bureaucrat like his Dad, towards which he has been working studiously at home. Vignan was an average shooter, until he chanced upon some tips from his father at Kakinada, during an NCC competition. The former had been scoring about 65/150 and didn't see too much hope. A 45-minute chat with his Dad changed all that and the son registered an impressive 113/150!Inputs come from his father not just on shooting but on mental and physical preparation too. The parent puts this ward through yoga, meditation, physiotherapy and even homeopathy when it comes to medication. That these efforts have been rewarded is evident from a clutch of medals Vignan has won at the district and state levels.The year 2004 was a particularly productive one for he was adjudged the NCC Air Wing's best all India cadet. Other honours include receiving the Prime Minister's gold medal, baton and trophy on Republic Day, the Chief Minister's medal for musical performance and the Col. Chowdary award from Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. He has also mentored cadets of AP's NCC unit, one of whom is Sandeep, who claimed silver in the 50 metres small bore rifle 0.22 at the Asansol event. As for himself, he aspires for a medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and hopes to join the IAS as well. In addition to papa's support, his ablest ally will be his German made Feinwerkbau 700 rifle.