India's Vijay Kumar celebrates after winning silver medal in the men's 25m rapid fire pistol shooting event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London on . PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist
When I started out, I'd never thought that I would stand on the podium in an Olympics. I'd always dreamt about it though. I was confident of doing well at the Commonwealth and Asian Games, but an Olympic medal was a dream.
It's not that an Olympic medal is unattainable. Everything is achievable if you work for it earnestly, and this medal proves it, as prior to this India's record in rapid fire pistol at world-class competitions wasn't good.
I still remember those days when I used to shoot at the Young Bullet Competition for a spot in the Army Marksmen Unit. I had a vision and I stuck to it. From a .9mm pistol to the .22 Par-dini, the weap-on with which I won silver in London, it's been a long journey.
I owe a lot to the training in Mhow and the support staff provided by the Army. Smirnoc Pavel, our Russian coach, taught me to believe in myself and, more importantly, worked on the mental aspect of my game. Technique was never a problem, but mentally we needed to remain focussed.
Age is on my side and I hope to represent the country in two or three Olympics. There's no way I will sit on my laurels, and the plan is to hit the range by next month.
The training regimen will stay the same and while preparing for the Commonwealth and Asian Games, the Olympics will stay in the mind. The pressure in Rio will be more and I need to toughen up mentally.
If a boy from Hamirpur can win a medal at the Olympics, this means that there is a lot of talent in the country. It's up to the government and other stakeholders to tap it. All we need is a structured system through which we can spot talent and nurture it for Olympic medals. In shooting, we have Olympic champions and we should utilise their expertise.
We must also compete at the highest level. No matter how much you shoot in the ranges, the challenge is when you know the opponent has shot a better score. This is when the mind starts to give in. The only way out is to compete more.
The writer won silver at London 2012