Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has expressed his hearty appreciation for the tremendous performance by Ronjan Sodhi in winning the double trap gold in the World Cup in Belgrade with two world records.

“It was pure magic for me,” said Rathore in a communication to The Hindu, as he talked about watching his team-mate for the past 10 years succeed at he highest level.

“It is not every day that one gets to see the world record being equalled, and that too by an Indian. We could see that Ronjan was in good form coming into the competition but his training scores were not the world record kind of scores. But that day belonged to him. He started with a 49 out of 50 targets. Then, I saw him start the next set of 50 targets with two misses in the beginning. I was waiting for my turn to go in and shoot but I was watching him with great interest from a distance and he pulled out a stunning score of 48 out of 50. So, with three targets already down he had to shoot a 50 out of 50 (for a score of 147) to equal the world record, and he did just that!” said Rathore.

Hats off

“Can it get better than this? It was amazing performance and my hats off to him. He told me later that when he shot 30 out of 30, he realised that he had a chance for equalling the world record if he could shoot all the remaining 20 targets. He did that; it means that he was in a situation where if he fired his gun, no matter what, it would hit the target. I do hope that Ronjan gets a wild-card, which he so richly deserves. Two Indians are better than one at the Olympics,” Rathore said.

The world championship bronze medallist and champion of a few World Cups, Rathore stressed that Indian shooting had come of age, as he recalled an interesting observation by Sodhi.

“I remember around the period from 2000 to 2004, Ronjan, commenting in a jovial manner to other team mates that being a double-trap shooter in the presence of Chilly (Rathore) was resigning to coming second or waiting for Chilly to retire from shooting to get the feel of winning. Standards are set to be broken. Old mind set must give way to new. It is a shining example to all, to reach for the sky, to challenge the limits,” Rathore said.

Glorious moments

Rathore also summed up some of the glorious moments of Indian shooting he had been associated with.

“I have seen and been part of some glorious moments in Indian shooting. Indians shooting down gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Manavjit Sandhu and Abhinav Bindra winning the World Championships in 2007, Jaspal Rana’s string of golds at the Asian Games, string of wins by Anjali Bhagwat in 2002-2003, world record score of 400 out of 400 by Suma Shirur at the Asian Championship in 2004, Samaresh Jung being declared the best sportsman at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, the world record by Ronjan Sodhi in 2008…and my humble contribution of an Olympic silver medal for India at Athens in 2004”.

One of the brightest prospects to land a second medal from the Olympics, Rathore said: “We are now a team that the world notices with mixed feelings of intrigue, praise, and sometimes even awe. I would not say that we have reached the league of the US or China or some of the other leading nations, but we are on our way.”

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