The first time I met Vijay in 2003, he was a lean and thin guy who had come to compete in the Young Bullet Competition where three shooters from each regiment get a chance to show their skills and get selected in the Army team. He represented 16 Dogra. It was a memorable day when both of us got selected in the Army Marksman's Unit.
What made us really good friends was the fact that Vijay was a very unassuming and soft-spoken person, preferring to listen than to talk. Unless he is in the company of extremely close friends, he will not open up. I really appreciate his poise and his ability to handle pressure.
Though you might think that he is a pretty uninteresting person, let me tell you that he loves to listen to Punjabi music and watch English movies, especially those featuring action hero Jackie Chan. In fact, I share this trait with him.
We also shoot with the same Italian-make .22 Pardini rapid-fire pistol, which cost slightly in excess of R1 lakh. We shoot around 200-250 rounds everyday, at least four days a week. We prefer the Pardini brand as it has less recoil and more accuracy. Since, it's a precision sport, it's very important that our hands remain steady. Less recoil helps us manage that.
Before every event, Vijay loves to sleep. He has a very interesting ritual. He goes out and does physical conditioning so that he gets exhausted and sleeps like a log. He wakes up the next day early and, after a brief consultation with his coach/trainer, he gets ready for the event.
Vijay’s first international competition was in 2005, when we went to the Commonwealth Championships in Melbourne. Both of us were really excited. For boys from small towns, flying out to Australia to represent the country, was an incredible journey. We did very well. I won gold, while Vijay had to settle for a bronze — his first international medal. Later at the 2006 CWG in Melbourne, he won the individual gold and we paired together for the pairs gold.
The writer is Vijay kumar’s practice partner at mhow