Fisherman’s daughter aims big in shotgun shooting
Coming from a humble background, Cathrine Esther wouldn’t have even dreamt of pursuing an expensive sport like shotgun had it not been for an opportunity that fell into her lap.Updated: Jul 25, 2020 21:29 IST
Sport has transformed the life of Cathrine Esther, a fisherman’s daughter from Sellur in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. Coming from a humble background - her father earns between R500-R1000 a day - Esther wouldn’t have even dreamt of pursuing an expensive sport like shotgun had it not been for an opportunity that fell into her lap.
During the 2015 state competition in Tiruchirappalli, she was among three students who had volunteered to become officials. The three also got a chance to compete. Esther tried her hand at shotgun and shot 30 out of 50. “I tried my hand in shotgun, scoring 30 out of 50, finishing first,’’ recalls Esther.
That was the turning point in her life. For someone who had just competed in a few .22 peep sight school-level competitions as an NCC cadet, Esther started dreaming of becoming a top shooter rather than a teacher to support her family.
“Shotgun was an entirely different experience,” she says.
In 2016, she clinched the South Zone trap and double trap titles and became eligible for the nationals. While she could only manage 52/75 on debut, her overall performance was recognised by the Royal Pudukkottai Sports Club, which had been supporting her with ammunition and other facilities since 2015. The club gave her a new weapon in 2017. “It was a huge gift,”’ she says.
Having a personal weapon made a big difference. She achieved a career-high 14th spot in the 2019 nationals, scoring 98/125. “I became eligible for the national selections trials but couldn’t compete due to the outbreak of Covid-19,’’ she adds.
Despite pursuing the sport, Esther’s passion for studies hasn’t diminished. She did her B.Sc in 2016, becoming the first graduate from her village. She completed her M.Sc in 2018. “Ours is a traditional fishing village where male members have been following it for generations. But the younger generation isn’t keen. They want to follow different paths. My brothers - one is school-going, the other is in college - are not keen on pursuing the family tradition.’’
Perhaps the tsunami in 2004, she says, has something to do with it. “Our house, which was 500 metres from the sea, was devastated. It was a harrowing experience. My parents were badly injured. My youngest brother went missing. He was traced later. It took us two years to get our lives back on track,” the 24-year-old says.
Esther still has memories of that fateful day. “It was December 26 and my brother and I had gone to church. I saw a big wave storm the coastline. We had a narrow escape as people helped us take shelter near the church.”
In 2007, those affected by the tsunami got government accommodations. Esther’s family too got a new house in a colony two km from the sea. “Despite the hardships faced by my family, I was sent to school. At times, there was no money. Seeing the plight of my father, there was this urge to work hard and contribute to the family income. Getting a government job through the sports quota will help me pursue shooting as well as support my family,” says Esther.
Esther has cleared the state police department exam to become a sub-inspector. “The physical test has been postponed due to Covid-19. I’m ranked second in the written exam and am eagerly looking forward to getting enrolled in the department. The job will help me bear the expenses of the sport and help me reach a good level,” she says.