Some people bask in glory, others revel in seclusion. Army marksman Vijay Kumar comes in the second category. The unassuming rapid-fire shooter from Hasour village in Hamirpur district (HP) would be the last person to come anywhere near a camera.
So on Sunday, when the spotlight was on the Mhow-based marksman, he bagged the first pistol gold in rapid-fire to kick-start his quest for more. The 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist shot so beautifully in the qualification rounds that even a ‘blank shot’ in the finals could not stop him from clinching his first gold at the 52nd National Championships here.
“I shot a 292/300 on Friday and followed it up with a 289/300 on Saturday. The finals today were a bit of a disappointment as I got a ‘duck’ on the fifth shot of the second series, yet I managed to open my account here,” said the Doha Asian Games bronze-medallist in rapid-fire and team gold-medallist in centre-fire.
Vijay aggregated 581/600 in the qualification round and 190.5 in the finals to total 771.5. And despite a superb 196.3 by team-mate Pemba Tamang in the finals, the senior shooter could only finish a distant second with an aggregate of 769.3.
“At the last Nationals in Ahmedabad, I had walked away with five gold medals. I hope to improve on that tally this year as I had missed the rapid-fire gold to Pemba the last time,” said Vijay, who’s all set to leave for the US in a week’s time for a training programme in precision shooting.
“Last time Pemba had bagged the gold as I couldn’t concentrate because of high fever, but this time I was determined. I’m happy that I regained my crown. Both Pemba and I stay and train together 99 per cent of the time,” said Vijay, who at one time was sharing the same mobile number with his senior counterpart.
Luck hasn’t exactly favoured Vijay, though, when it comes to international competitions. “I could have qualified for the Beijing Games but was down with chicken pox when the quota places for the mega-event were being decided. Then I missed the quota by a whisker for the World Cup.
“I’m happy that things are okay now. And with the new Russian coach Smirnov Pavel to assist us, I have set my sights on an Olympic quota for the London Games,” he said.
Results: 1. Vijay Kumar (Army) 581 + 190.5 = 771.5; 2. Pemba Tamang (Army) 573 + 196.3 = 769.3; 3. Gurpreet Singh (Army) 577 + 190.5 = 767.5.