By Anuj Mishra
Zagreb [Croatia], June 15 (ANI): Having missed a chance to represent India in the 2016 Rio Olympics, rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput is looking to give it his all when he lands in Tokyo for the upcoming Games -- starting on July 23. Apart from the skill set and mental strength, Sanjeev is hungry to make it count in Tokyo.
"For me, it's the third Olympics and the biggest of all competitions I have played in my life. Firstly, because it's after a nine-year gap. The conditions will be very different. It's post-pandemic also, so a good Olympics will send out a positive wave all-around," Sanjeev told ANI.
"So, I am really looking forward. On the personal front, after missing the previous Olympics the hunger is, even more, this time around. So I am really determined," he pointed.
Like many other athletes, Sanjeev aims to achieve his peak just at the cusp of the Tokyo Olympics. "My preparation is in line. I am still not at my peak but on the road to it definitely. I expect to hit a peak a week before the Games. Before that in Osijek, I want to give a good performance as well," Sanjeev smiled.
"There is nothing I have to change or nothing that I need. Of course, 20 years of shooting will benefit me. Experience makes it easier to handle the next situation efficiently. So I will surely be having an advantage of experience," he added.
Last year when sporting action was put to a grinding halt, Sanjeev did only dry practice but what hurt him the most was the break he got during the second COVID-19 wave as he was fresh out of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup where he had won a gold medal in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions Mixed Team event.
"Till July 2020 almost only dry practice is what I did since all the ranges and everything was closed. Then I trained 3 times a week for two weeks and then in August I did proper practice as range operations resumed," he said.
"The one-month break during the second wave was more hurting actually but thankfully we came to Croatia just in time. Otherwise, we would have been left unprepared," Sanjeev mentioned.
Talking about the new normal in which several athletes have opted for a break prioritising their mental health, Sanjeev says players should openly talk about it as there is a bit of pressure on everyone to perform well.
"It is a mental game. But that is only after a stage. Like the stage, we are in now after all these years. Because now we know the process. So I feel it is important to cut yourself off from a few things -- results and the likely benefits of those results....and only focus on the present scenario and what you are doing," said Sanjeev.
"I feel because of Covid the kind of situation that has arisen; there has been a lot of effect on mental health, particularly on people who do 9-5 work etc. So it's important to have more discussions on this. I feel people should openly talk about it -- those who have been affected -- so that they can come out of it faster and easier."
"The same applies to players. Like we have not played in any international competition. But now after playing in the European Shooting Championship, I can feel on the faces of other shooters from across the world, that there was a bit of pressure on everyone. People were crosschecking much more than before," he opines.
Ahead of the Tokyo Games, the Indian team is training in Croatia to get into the groove. Sanjeev is happy he is getting the opportunity to train in pleasant weather and for an athlete like him it is a big factor when it comes to practising in a good environment
"Going good. In fact very good. The federation did a great thing by getting us here. The environment is free and safe. Particularly for a 3P shooter like me, the weather is a big factor during preparations," Sanjeev smiled.
"Back in Delhi, the weather would have been extreme and in a 50M range, it can get very strenuous practising long hours. The temperature here ranges between 20-27 degrees. So yes, very helpful....maybe not so much difference for 10m exponents, but for 50M, 25M exponents, it is certainly very helpful," he signed off. (ANI)