Indian Army's focus on unearthing world-class shooters through the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) is continuing to reap dividends. 11 Gorkha Regiment's Jitu Rai has emerged as the new sensation, becoming the first to win two medals in a single World Cup competition.
|Rai first made it to the Army's shooting |
squad in 2010-11. (ISSF Photo)
The gold medal was Rai's third podium finish in nine days after bagging a silver medal in the previous ISSF World Cup in Munich on June 11. "Nothing much has changed in my equipment or technique. Only that it all clicked in the last few weeks," the champion shooter told TOI from Maribor.
Rai, currently ranked 26th in the world, is surely going to go up in the new rankings list but the talented shooter's real test will start in September when the quota places for the 2016 Rio Olympics will be up grabs.
Rai first made it to the Army's shooting squad in 2010-11 but failed to live up to his promise and was subsequently sent back to his unit putting an end to his training at the AMU in Mhow.
"This is my third stint at the AMU. I got selected the first time after firing with the 9mm pistol but it is completely different to shoot with an air pistol. I got the RTU (Return to Unit) order twice but I continued to train hard at my unit and got selected again. Thanks to my coach Garvaraj Rai in Lucknow, who helped me with the technique and motivated me to reach this level," a modest Rai said.
The sharp shooter who joined has a sepoy has climbed up two rungs due to his achievements in shooting. "In 2013 I got promoted as Havildar after winning a national medal and I got another out-of-turn promotion as Naik Subedar for winning a medal in the Asian championship. Now, things will be easier for me as I will get more time to train," he added.
During vacations Rai travels to Nepal to meet his mother and siblings. His father passed away in 2006, which prompted his migration to India. "I send my mother some money every month to make life easier for her," said Rai whose father was a farmer who cultivated paddy and corn. "Six of us joined the Army in 2006. The others are still sepoys while I have moved up the ladder," he said.
Rai, who made two World Cup finals in 2013, said he benefitted from the stiff competition provided by compatriot Nanjappa who finished 5th and 7th in air pistol and 12th in the free pistol event in Maribor.
The two Indians, both supported by the Olympic Gold Quest, will next compete in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. While Rai has made it to the Indian team in free pistol, Nanjappa has booked his ticket in air pistol. "My next target is to win a medal in Glasgow," Rai said.