Despite cash crunch, shooter Rahi Sarnobat goes on leave without pay for Tokyo Olympics
Rahi Sarnobat, India’s first female shooter to win an Asian Games gold, still has “nightmares” about her financial security despite competing at the highest level for more than a decade.
The 28-year-old pistol shooter from Maharashtra’s Kohlapur feels that she should have been financially sound after “all these years of hardwork” but she is not. The Asian Games gold got her a total cash reward of ₹70 lakh ( ₹50 lakh from Maharashtra government and ₹20 lakh from Sports Ministry) but such are the expenses of a top-level shooter, Rahi ended up giving a chunk of that award money to her personal coach Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a former Olympic medallist and world champion from Mongolia. Dorjsuren is now a German citizen.
Rahi is supported by Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) and is also employed as a deputy collector in her state’s revenue department, but she has gone without pay from September, 2017, due to her sporting commitments.
“I feel I don’t have more than four years left as a professional shooter and after 12 years of competing for India, I still have sleepless nights about my financial situation,” the soft spoken Rahi told PTI.
She doesn’t know for how long she is going to keep paying Dorjsuren out of her own pocket (approximately ₹50 lakh per year) but remains fully committed to her sport and will not compromise on training one bit ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I have taken leave without pay from the state revenue department. Anyway, I have not been paid since September 2017. I thought of going to Mumbai and talk to my employers but it is very hard to find time as a professional shooter. We have back-to-back events and if there are no tournaments, we are busy with the training. I do want more sponsors but don’t know how to go about the whole thing,” said Rahi.
The 25m pistol shooter overcame a career-threatening elbow injury to win the Asian Games gold in Indonesia, her first major victory since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She also won a World Cup gold back in 2013.
It was only Dorjsuren, who played a major role in getting Rahi’s career back on track. The renowned coach commands a hefty remuneration and if situation doesn’t improve, Rahi says she will run out of money to pay her.
“2018 being a busy year, I had to train with Dorjsuren for 10 months. This year too, she will be with me for at least seven months (leading to an estimated annual expense of ₹35 lakh at the rate of ₹5 lakh per month).
“I hardly have any money to take care of myself and my retired parents. I hope I find a way to deal with this at the earliest,” she added.