Shooter Sarabjot Singh, lover of fast cars and visualisation, has Paris in his sight - Hindustan Times
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Shooter Sarabjot Singh, lover of fast cars and visualisation, has Paris in his sight

ByRutvick Mehta, Bhopal
May 18, 2024 08:57 PM IST

He topped the fourth qualification round in 10m air pistol in the Olympic selection trials in Bhopal to secure a Games spot

The last time he celebrated after a successful shooting event, Sarabjot Singh settled on a simple treat with a rare meal outside. That was a year ago, after he won the individual 10m air pistol gold at the Bhopal World Cup.

Pistol shooter Sarabjot Singh in Bhopal on Saturday.
Pistol shooter Sarabjot Singh in Bhopal on Saturday.

Returning to the same venue, Sarabjot has ensured he will finish among the top two in the Olympic selection trials — he topped the fourth qualification round shooting 584 on Saturday — which rewards Paris Olympics spots (NRAI’s selection committee will finalise squads post a meeting). That’s no cause for celebration, though.

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“There’s no point celebrating such small things,” he said. “I like to celebrate only when I do things I’ve actually dreamt of.”

Which, for a man who visualises his shooting goals and has a taste for fast cars and video games, is to not just be in Paris, but also medal there.

“I haven't been thinking about the Olympics from today or this year. I have been thinking about it for the last eight years. Ek aag hoti hai bande ke andar (a fire burns inside one), that I want to do this. For me it is not about winning World Cup medals, it is about winning the Olympic gold,” Sarabjot, 22, says.

Winning those other medals might not be top priority but the shooter from Dheen village in Ambala has won quite a few of them over the last couple of years. Coming into the seniors as a 2019 junior World Championship gold medallist, Sarabjot also won the Asian Games team gold and mixed team silver last year, and the 2023 Asian Championships individual bronze — it earned the Paris quota place — along the way.

“Those medals have built my confidence, which is important. It also helps me realise the kind of mistakes you have made in these matches, and ensuring that you don’t repeat that,” he said. “I consider my consistency as my biggest strength.”

The other strength, he says, is his front sight focus. That comes from practicing tratak thrice a week. In this meditation technique, Sarabjot sits in a dark room, places a candle about an arm’s length away and focuses on the flame for three minutes. He then shuts his eye and visualises the flame with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. The cycle is repeated four times in a session.

“It has done wonders for my front sight,” he says. “I focus a lot on yoga and meditation.”

This for a young man who loves the thrill of speed, stands quite in contrast. Then again, Sarabjot admits his passion is cars and shooting, in that order. He purchased an SUV for his family recently and plans to buy a sports car for himself soon. He loves going for a spin at the Buddh International Circuit renting a car whenever time permits, and also watching F1.

“Speed ka shauk hai. I had a keen interest for racing and cars from a young age. Shooting came later,” says Sarabjot, whose father is a farmer and mother a housewife.

Not everything in his shooting life has been on the fast lane though. Last year, a nagging shoulder issue flared up after the Bhopal World Cup. Sarabjot kept going through the shoulder impingement for a few tournaments, until it came to a point where he couldn’t. He skipped the shooting teams’ training camp in France and also the World University Games. The pain continued to bother him at the Asian Games too.

“That was a difficult phase, the lowest point of my career so far,” he says.

His mobile phone and gaming screen wallpapers flash the Olympic rings, a sight he wakes up to every morning. Yet, that’s no pressure for Sarabjot; nor were these trials where his Paris quota was on the line.

“Pressure is built from outside. In my mind, I had no pressure. I wasn't even thinking that I have to do well in these trials and stuff like that,” he says. “My goal was to be at the Paris Olympics and win a medal there. That is what I had visualised.”

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