Seema Tomar doesn’t really fit into the mould of an archetypal shotgun shooter. Quite unlike her outgoing and flaunt-your-attitude team-mates, Seema is reticent to the point that she hardly interacts at the range and silently goes about her task of shooting down clay pigeon targets.
On Wednesday, she became the first lady shotgun shooter from the country to clinch a medal at the ISSF World Cup in Dorset (Britain). She shot an 88/100 to ‘trap’ silver behind Daniela Del Din of San Marino and pushed the seasoned Maria Volkova of Russia to third spot.
Seema, who hails from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, shot a superb 70/75 in the three qualification rounds and was in contention for gold, but missed seven birds in the final round of 25 to notch 18 points for an aggregate of 88, four behind the gold-medallist who finished on 92.
Speaking to HT after her triumph, Seema said, “I’m very happy that for all the harassment the organisers put us through, this medal is a slap on their face.”
The Indian shooters were harassed by the organisers and it was after the coaches lodged a formal protest with the Indian High Commission in Britain that the issue was resolved and the organisers had to tender an apology.
Coming from a family where her mother wields the sickle and father tills land, the inspiration to do well came when a small makeshift range was opened in village Johri in Baghpat district. “We just had one pistol in the range donated by Rahul Gandhi and some 30-40 children used to practice with that. Then, I moved to air rifle. But I always had a fascination for the big guns. Thanks to my good scores in air rifle, I was appointed a division clerk at the Infantry School (Corps of Signals) in 2004.
“Without the Army’s support, I couldn’t have come this far as shotgun is a prohibitively expensive sport. Despite having a bagful of medals in the National Championships, Asian Clay events in Jaipur, Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Bangkok, one medal was missing from my cupboard --- the World Cup. I’m happy I’ve achieved it.”
“My inspiration to shoot came from my mother, who despite being 60 then —– now 73 — bagged several medals at the district and state level. And all this while tending to eight children,” said Seema.
“I have just one grudge against my employers. They do not support me enough financially as I am in the civil staff. Army personnel winning medals earn promotions and prize-money, but I am left high and dry,” she said.
Another Indian, Shreyasi Singh, daughter of National Rifle Association of India president, Digvijay Singh, finished a miserable 38th out of 42 shooters with 59 points.
1. Daniela Del Din (SMR) 71+21 = 92; 2. Seema Tomar (Ind) 70+18 = 88; 3. Maria Volkova (Rus) 70+17= 87.