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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Rathore tips hat to ‘Constant Comatose’

I believe we have the strongest team in the shooting competition here. And this gold medal will only help us get stronger. Rathore tells to Indraneel Das.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2011 12:04 IST
Indraneel Das
Indraneel Das
Hindustan Times

HE KNOWS how it feels to stand on the podium wearing an Olympic medal and holding a bouquet of flowers. Perhaps that is why he realises the significance of what Abhinav Bindra did here on Monday better than others.

In Athens, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, now an icon for Indians, missed out on hearing the national anthem, the gold in the double trap having gone to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On Monday he got a chance to listen to it as an Olympic spectator. And it was enough to send shivers down his spine.

He had just finished his final practice session before Abhinav’s victory ceremony. “I could feel the goose bumps all over my body. It’s a momentous occasion,” he said after watching the ceremony on TV in the players’ dressing room. “His achievement has made all of us proud.”

“Abhinav is a composed shooter,” said the suave and articulate armyman. “In Athens he missed out, but his win here shows character. He was immaculate today.

“It’s time our country gradually gets accustomed to Olympic sport. If we hadn’t have won a gold here it would have been a setback for the Olympic movement. Now that we have won, it will give us an opportunity to look ahead and think about winning more medals.”

Though he was reluctant to speak on how his silver ushered in a new era in shooting, he said: “I never wanted to say that.” He paused before saying: “Earlier, we thought the westerners (white-skinned shooters) were superior to us. The way they talked, the way they practised and the way they walked. We thought we could never beat them. But Athens changed that. The World Championship victories have changed the perception of the youngsters. They have an attitude and are so confident that now they believe they can beat anyone in the world. And I can assure you this is the best team of the event here.”

On what he talks about while sharing a meal with Abhinav in the Village dining hall, Rathore said: “We call him Constant Comatose. But when we sit to eat we never discuss shooting. But I can assure you each of the shooters here are very composed.”

Taking nothing away from Bindra’s victory, Rathore said: “The weight of expectation from the home crowd made it difficult for the Chinese. The supporters are uneducated. They don’t realise that whenever they start cheering and shouting for the shooter, it adds to the pressure on him. They don’t realise that unlike football and boxing, here the shooter needs to stay composed. Adrenaline shouldn’t overflow. If it does then hands shake and jeopardise his chances.

“It’s heartening to see that we have converted silver into gold. That shows that we are progressing. That shows that we are on the right track.

“I believe we have the strongest team in the shooting competition here. And this gold medal will only help us get stronger.”

When Rathore takes position for his double trap event on Tuesday, he will be a relieved man. “Abhinav has done me a great favour. His victory has taken a load off my shoulders. Someone had to win a medal here. Now I will be more relaxed tomorrow,” he said.