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Anjali Vedpathak

Anjali Vedpathak - Aiming for the bull's eye

Anjali Vedpathak - Aiming for the killAnjali Vedpathak has won the hearts of Mumbaites when she became the first Indian woman to qualify for the eight-person final in the air-rifle shooting competition in the Sydney Olympics. Anjali's spirited performance assumes significance because she made a last minute entry in the Indian team at the behest of the selectors. This inordinate delay robbed her off the precious time which could have been utilised to prepare herself psychologically for the competition. Anjali was helped by the Hinduja foundation for her trip to Sydney. She had practiced diligently under the watchful eyes of renowned Hungarian coach Laszla Szucsuk.

The 30-year-old Anjali who is employed as a sub-inspector in the Central Industrial Security Force in Mumbai, had proved her mettle in the premier level of the game. She won the gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth games and the SAF games. In addition to this, Anjali formed a terrific combination with teammates Charulata Rao and Aparna Bhide to win many national titles for Maharashtra.

Anjali has forcefully driven home the point that Indian sportswomen can rub shoulders with the best in the world. She spoke to about her achievements as an air-rifle shooter.

How did you start your career as a rifle- shooter?

I was a NCC cadet while majoring in Accounts from Kirti College. During the NCC training sessions, I found rifle-shooting as an exciting and challenging game. I took active part in the rifle-shooting exercise and picked up the game. Eventually, I began to excel in inter-college rifle-shooting competitions. I decided to take rifle-shooting as a career when B P Ram, the former Inspector General of Police, and coach Sanjay Chakravorty advised me to continue the shooting practice with the aim to represent Maharashtra in the national tournaments. Starting from our victory in the team championships in 1988, I helped Maharashtra to win many competitions, with my other teammates being Charulata Rao and Aparna Bhide.

Who coached you for the Sydney Olympics?

Anjali Vedpathak takes aimThe Sports Authority of India had appointed the Hungarian coach Laszla Szucsuk who is reckoned as one of the best coaches in the world. He imparted the modern and scientific training which enhanced my performance in the Olympics. However, coach Laszla was appointed in February 1999 which was a bit too late for training oneself for a prestigious competition like the Olympics. My performance in Sydney would have been more effective, only if I had trained under his guidance for a period of 4 to 5 years.

Why do you emphasize on the infrastructure in sports?

I realised the gulf of difference between my NCC training at Kirti college and the modern scientific training which is given nowadays, to the rifle-shooters. Scientific training can be only obtained on the electronic targets which helps us to achieve optimum results in Olympics which is more competitive than other tournaments. I think, the government should provide electronic targets to the national squad. The import license should be given not only to the renowned shooters but also to the talented youngsters. Moreover, the import licenses should be exempted from duty and ammunition of superior quality should be made available to all the players.

What do you think about the performance of our young shooters in competitive tournaments?

I'm quite impressed with the skills of 17-year-old Abhinav Bindra of Chandigargh who took apart in the Sydney Olympics. I also admire young Rajkumari who is from the army and has shown considerable promise in different tournaments.

What guidelines would you like to give to the rising Indian sport-stars who aim for glory in Olympics?

It is very important that a player is at the peak of his powers if he they want to excel as their is no room for experimentation in top competitions like the Olympics. So all the Indian sport-stars who aspire for glory in the Olympics should undergo four years of rigorous training, and the hard work should start right now.

Tell us about your hobbies?Anjali Vedpathak

I enjoy trekking and mountaineering as I have completed a special course in mountaineering from Kulumanali in UP. Like my elder sister Neena who is a postgraduate in classical music, I also like to sing classical music.

What are your future plans?

At the moment, I want to concentrate on the forthcoming Asian Games to be held in Pusan, South Korea and the Common Wealth Games which is will be organised in Manchester, England in 2002. However, the ultimate goal is to prepare myself for the next Olympics to be held in Athens, Greece in 2004.

By: Wasim Siddiqui


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