Tokyo Olympics: Amid Covid lockdown, two time Olympian Sanjeev Rajput practices 6 hours everyday at Karni Singh aiming for a medal at Tokyo Games: Two-time Olympian & Arjuna awardee Sanjeev Rajput is hugely banking on his steel-like resolve, an indomitable spirit and huge experience to weather the “super-cyclone” of Covid 19 pandemic and give his best shot for an elusive medal at the Tokyo Olympics. And he is practicing day-in and day-out at Delhi’s Karni Singh Shooting Range under a water-tight regimen following all covid guidelines and norms in the strictest manner possible.
“It’s an extremely difficult and tense situation but the game must go on. I probably have this last chance of winning a medal for the country at the Olympics and I am not going to let it go. It is the most important phase of my life, I have been to two Olympics in 2008 and 2012, nine years later it will be a very different Olympics, and it will be different for everyone. It will also be very important for everyone because it has never happened like this Olympics after a gap of five years. I am careful but not scared. I practice almost everyday from 8 am to 2 pm at Delhi’s Karni Singh Shooting Range along with my coach. He is quite happy with my progress. I think it’s on course. Winning a ISSF World Cup gold last month has added to my confidence,” Sanjeev, who aims to clinch a medal in the Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the Olympics, told Insidesport.co in an exclusive interview after finishing his practice on Wednesday afternoon.
“I am working on improving my performance in the finals. My performances in Qualification rounds are always good. Now I am experimenting with my style and technique, as the lead up to this year’s Tokyo Olympics is the most important phase of my life. In the finals I need to work a little more by making changes, I need to focus on improvements. I have done well, in kneeling, prone in mixed team qualifications. There is a different kind of pressure in the finals, there are limited shots & a lot of times small things get overlooked. Athletes will have to abide by various Covid-19 protocols which also includes reaching the Games Village only five days prior to the competition. In the case of shooting, there are chances that the test event might be limited to only Japanese athletes. Amidst these difficult circumstances my experience could be key in dealing with these problems. Young shooters can win a match or two but when so many elements are there, experience comes in handy,” the Arjuna awardee observed.
Reflecting on the current Covid situation and the lockdown in Delhi, Rajput said he was grateful to the Sports Ministry and the NRAI to give him an opportunity to continue with practice. “I practice alone. So the question of social distancing does not arise. Only my Ukranian coach oversees my practice. We are working on stability and some basic fundamentals which will help me physically and mentally be prepared for the mega event.“
Partnering with Tejaswini Sawant ,Rajput won the gold medal in the 50m rifle 3 positions mixed team event of the ISSF World Cup in Delhi last month. He has won four gold and two silver medals in Commonwealth Championships, two silvers and two bronze at the Asian Games, a gold, silver and bronze each at the Commonwealth Games to go with his triple silver and a gold at the ISSF Shooting World Cup.