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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

Trap door closes on Rathore

The 2004 Athens Games hero fails to make the cut, says he may not compete again. Indraneel Das reports. Full coverage.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2008 01:16 IST
Indraneel Das
Indraneel Das
Hindustan Times

‘You fail in life, not after it’...

RVS Rathore after failing to qualify for the double trap final

Seeing a champion break down is sad. Seeing a hero fall is disheartening. Such moments are rare, but seeing Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in tears is rarer still. But that?s sport for you. And in the way he went through the entire spectrum of triumph and adversity, from Athens to Beijing, makes his story even more memorable.

For four years, Rathore battled motivation blues, hanging in there in the hope of another silver lining to an awesome career. When, on Tuesday, the crack of his last shot died on the hills here, Rathore stood in his station, motionless. He knew the hardwork, the sacrifices and the pain had yielded a meagre 131. The double trap dream had turned into a nightmare, his scores of 43, 45, 43 being only good enough for a 15th spot among 19 shooters.

Some half-an-hour later, when Rathore walked out of the players's arena, he seemed composed. Sporting a new look, head held high, he reached the waiting media with measured steps. ?It?s been a long and difficult journey. There have been moments when I was thinking of whether to go to Beijing or not,? he said.

Hard times
“I was going through a very difficult period on my personal front,” he said, managing a wan smile. “I was finding it difficult to find my motivation back but thanks to my coaches -- Luka Marini and John Lukatos -- I started focusing on Beijing.”

“I was missing my first target with such regularity that I knew it was not my day. We all play here to win and but some win and some lose. Today, I was the unlucky one,” he said.

In such circumstances, it is difficult being an officer and a gentleman but you couldn’t fault Rathore for not trying. He refused to attribute failure to pressure over the past four years, saying instead that “pressure has always helped me shoot better.” He did not find fault with the conditions but accepted that “reading the targets here is not very easy and I found it very difficult to adjust.”

Failure makes it easy to seek excuses but Rathore would blame nothing, not even the change in technique where he hits the right bird first.

“Everybody wants to perfect his art. I too, for the last 10 years or so have been striving for perfection. But now I have realised that there is nothing called perfect technique,” he said.

Ruing his missed chance he said: “We have not achieved what we came here for. But then, you have to realise you only fail in life not after that. In trap one does not see the target. It all depends on your anticipation. My anticipation was not alright too.”

Breaking down
And then without warning, the façade slipped. No one, perhaps not even the marksman himself, thought that the question seeking to know how he would approach the 2010 Asian and Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Games would do this to him. Unable to respond, Rathore just turned around and rushed towards the dressing room, hands behind his head. He did not want anyone to see this side of him.

When the proud Armyman returned, he looked much more relaxed.

“I don't know about it right now. I may not compete again. But I don’t know. I love the sport very much and it will be very difficult to leave. I know that. Right now I am simply exhausted and I need to take a break and sit down and think what I am going to do.”

On becoming a coach, he said: “I never liked to be called a coach.

Though I can help young shooters, but I don’t think I will be a coach. I will definitely pass on the experience.”

By this time he had recovered. Recovered enough to end the interaction saying: “At the end, I have to look back and say I have lived my life well.”

At the ranges on Monday where a champion emerged and to end India’s wait for gold, another faltered, perhaps for the last time.

But that’s sport for you.