‘Things were very different then,’ Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore recalls 2004 Olympics triumph
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore became a household name in the country in 2004 when he won a silver in the men’s double trap event at the Athens Olympics. It was the first ever individual silver for India in the history of its participation in the Olympics.
Rathore said that he was determined to win a medal if he went to the Olympics as there was a lot of negativity around India at the Olympics due to the country’s poor record.
“Things were very different then. Way back in 2004, India was not winning many medals (at the Olympics),” said Rathore on Sony Ten’s ‘The Medal of Glory’ which airs on the network’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
“In fact, the environment was such that there was always a certain degree of negativity around when it came to the Olympics and India.
“I will not call it a vow, but I had a sense of determination that if I am going to go to the Olympics I am going to win a medal. I will not just go there to participate in the Olympics.”
Rathore said that his training also involved mental preparation so as to avoid being overawed by the occasion.
“Each day in the build-up to the 2004 Olympics was full of very hard training,” he said. “I also worked in a way that my first Olympics should not overawe me. I felt that when I reach there I should feel at home, be familiar with the surroundings.
“I had taken a lot of videos and pictures of the Olympic shooting range. I used to see that everyday before I used to go to sleep. I use to visualize myself standing in the arena and shooting there, in front of all the cameras so that I do not get overawed when I reach there.”
Rathore managed to shoot a score of 135 in qualification, thus finishing fifth and advancing to the finals.
“I remember that after two rounds I was number 13th. There was one more round to go,” he said.
“All through the buildup to the Olympics, I had been number one or number three in the world. So I had proven to myself in the run-up to the Olympics that you are among the best in the world.
“So I told myself that there is no reason for you to be out of the top six and lying 13th is unacceptable. I shot a brilliant third round and I jumped to the 5th spot from there and that is how I got into the finals.”
In the final, Rathore shot 179 which helped him finish one point above China’s Wang Zheng and secure silver. Gold medallist Ahmed Al Maktoum of the UAE had shot an Olympic record score of 189.
“Al Maktoum and I used to be neck to neck, but on that day I have to say that he was way ahead. He was a clear winner in that final,” said Rathore.
“I reached the final two shots and I knew that if I nailed these two shots the Olympic silver is ours. At this point of time instead of fear coming in there was an immense amount of aggression coming in, and controlled aggression coming in. I said to myself, this has to be a perfect process. I shot the first target and my eyes shifted to the next target and bang, I shot that as well.”