I have designed an international level shooting range at home. I have named it ‘Mission Olympic’ and have written on them Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024′
IMAGE: Shooter Singhraj Adhana was aiming for gold and had full faith in his abilities. Photograph: Twitter
Down with COVID-19 in May this year, Indian shooter Singhraj Adhana defied the odds to clinch the bronze medal in the P1 – Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 final of Tokyo Paralympics on Tuesday.
Singhraj had contracted COVID-19 three months ago and was hospitalised for 15 days. The Indian shooter said he might have won silver or gold on Tuesday if the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t hamper his training.
“I contracted COVID in May this year. I was down with fever and was hospitalised, when I recovered I felt like a second birth. I resumed training one month after recovering fully from COVID, if not for COVID, I might have had won gold or silver,” Singhraj told ANI after his bronze medal win.
“Postponement of Tokyo Games didn’t benefit me as I was in a good rhythm in 2020. If Paralympics were staged in 2020, more shooters would have won medals and I myself would have had a medal of a different colour,” he pointed out.
After finishing sixth in the qualification round, Singhraj started well in the final as he was placed in the top 3 during the first 10 shots while amassing 99.6 points.
The Indian shooter was aiming for gold and had full faith in his abilities, however, he did feel bad for compatriot Manish Narwal, who got eliminated during the final round.
“I had faith in my abilities and I was aiming for gold not just for the top three positions. I had prepared for the top spot,” said Singhraj.
“When I was in the fourth position I saw all athletes ahead of me were Chinese and meanwhile, Manish Narwal too was eliminated. I felt very bad and said to myself ‘now there is no chance of making a mistake’. I remembered God and registered a perfect shot to reach third (position),” he added.
Singhraj has set his eyes on Paris Olympics and will be resuming training for the Games 2024 as soon as he arrives in India.
“I have designed an international level shooting range at home. I have named it ‘Mission Olympic’ and have written on them Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024,” Singhraj said.
COVID-19 came in the way of him going to the range before the Tokyo Paralympics. So, Indian shooter Singhraj Adana simply built the range at home after drawing its layout in just one night.
However, for someone who could only watch helplessly as his wife once sold her jewellery to support his shooting dream, he knew the move was a huge gamble and so did his mother.
But during the lockdown, the polio-afflicted shooter’s desperation to resume training had reached a point where he was not able to even get a good night’s sleep.
“As I was not able to train, I started thinking that my dream of winning a medal is over. That’s when my coaches suggested why not try building a range at home,” Adana said in a media interaction organised by broadcaster Eurosport and the Paralympic Committee of India.
“I was getting desperate and was not able to sleep at all because of the absence of training. So I approached my family with the idea and they were taken aback at first as it involved lakhs of rupees.
“My mother only asked me to ensure that we are able to feed ourselves later on if something went wrong. But thanks to my family and coaches’ support, the green signal and help from the Paralympic Committee of India and NRAI, we succeeded in my mission and the range was soon up and running,” he added.
He designed it himself.
“I drew the layout overnight and my coaches told me that if at all we are building a range then it has to be of international level as it would then help me for not just Tokyo but also Paris Games.”
“That’s why I am here today.”
Adana’s first brush with the sport happened when he accompanied his nephew to a shooting range.
“My nephew Gaurav Adana is a shooter. I was smiling as they trained and the coach asked me about the reason. That day I tried my hand at shooting and was on target four out of five times including hitting the inner 10,” he recalled proudly.
Adana was coming into the Games after winning a gold at the 2021 Para Sport World Cup held in Al Ain, UAE, where he upstaged 2016 Rio Paralympics bronze-medallist Server Ibragimov by 2.8 points to claim the top spot.
“The coach was taken aback and asked me to start focussing on the sport, saying that I can bring laurels for my country, something I have always wanted to do.
“I have also done social work before getting into shooting when I realised that I can indeed do something worthwhile for my country,” said the athlete whose grandfather was part of the freedom movement and fought in the second world war.
As the pistol is held with one hand only, athletes in SH1 category have an impairment affecting one arm and/or the legs, for example resulting from amputations or spinal cord injuries. P1 is a classification for the men’s 10 air pistol competition.
Some shooters compete in a seated position, while others take aim in a standing position as defined in the rules.
But these limitations could never deter Adana as he had trained his eyes on achieving success in sports.
When asked about the struggles in his journey to the top, he got emotional and could not express much during the virtual interaction with a handful of journalists.
“I will do it later. Life is tough for any para athlete. I had polio on both my legs and needed crutches to walk. But my mother, who has always supported me along with others in the family, would tell me, motivate me to stand on my own legs,” he said.