Anjali Vedpathak - Aiming for the bull's eye
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 Mumbaibest.com
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?
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?
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
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