Last year in July, Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar stormed into record books by setting a new junior national record. He had scored 1173 points in 50m rifle three-prone position at the international Meeting of Shooting Hopes at Czech Republic.
Cut to July 2019, he hit a 10.4 in his last shot in the finals of ISSF Junior World Cup to finish with world record score of 459.3 in the same event, going past 458.7 set in the Beijing World Cup earlier this year set by Filip Nepejchal. His gold was not just an individual feat, it also helped India finish the competition on top of standings with a total of 24 medals including 10 gold. China finished second with a similar tally of 24 medals but with 8 gold.
This pressure or the fact that he was facing a top-class field in the finals including the reigning Youth Olympic Games champion Russian Grigoril Shamakov in the medal round was of no significance to Aishwarya.
"He aimed with utmost confidence and composure," said Vaibhav Sharma, his first coach from MP Sports Academy in Bhopal, under whom Aishwarya honed the skills of aiming at target.
"He has been working hard and after participating in so many senior World Cups, he has clinched first gold in the junior World Cup," said a proud coach speaking to Firstpost.
Aishwarya hails from an agricultural family. His father works as a farmer in Ratanpur near Khargone in Madhya Pradesh. The only person who pursued shooting in his family was his cousin Navdeep Singh Rathore. It was him who had inspired the 18-year-old to reach the camp in 2015 where he was spotted by Vaibhav and others.
Vaibhav recalled the early days, "He came to the academy in 2015. He joined a summer camp in Bhopal. He was inspired by his brother who himself is a shooter. His began his basics in 2015. He started with 10m and then we saw he is picking up well and performing, he started taking part in 50m events as well.
The young shooter did not look bad from thereon. For someone who started off just in 2015, he almost beat Olympic medallist Gagan Narang at national trials in June 2019. He shot 621.5, only 0.4 point lesser than Narang in the rifle 3-position event.
Before the finals on Friday, Aishwarya had a word with his childhood coach and while he was a little anxious, he knew he was closer to his first junior World Cup gold.
"I had a word with him after qualification rounds. He was a little anxious. Not too much. He never gets excited also. I had told him to maintain the energy levels for the medal round. Told him to eat his meal, enjoy the time and wait for the moment. It was important for him to relax," said Vaibhav, who feels it is Aishwarya's calm nature and love of pursuing the sport he enjoys that had paved the way to his success.
"He has done so well in this short while because he has a calm nature and he enjoys the sport. You need calmness to excel in shooting. Enjoying the sport always helps."
Vaibhav further said that even after clinching the medal, Aishwarya was untouched by the adulation.
"If you were watching him live, when he clinched the medal, there was zero reaction from him, no expressions on his face as this is his nature. This is the reason why he is doing well. He is calm, happy but untouched by success. He relishes this sport."
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2019 08:12:10 IST