When she was younger, shooter Sunidhi Chauhan was not interested in sports; she wanted to be a fighter pilot. To give wings to her fledgling dreams, she opted for the Air Wings course with the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in Bhopal's Barkatullah University as a 'C' certificate, which would have assured her a direct interview with Indian Air Force's (IAF) Services Selection Board (SSB).
However, this bid to fast-track her route to the IAF turned out to be a life-altering move as guns became her license to glory. Her coaches saw the proverbial spark in her and dreams of fighter jets, at least for now, have been pushed to the backburner.
The 21-year old will make her seniors' debut at the Shooting World Cup in the capital in the 50-metre 3 Positions event, where close to 500 athletes across 58 countries have congregated for 16 Olympic berths.
"Considering that this is my first World Cup, I have set realistic goals for myself. Shooting is a sport of incremental gains. For example, if I have been hitting average scores of 1170, I cannot suddenly start shooting 1180. So, my target will be to match my regular scores and give my best," the 2018 Shooting Nationals bronze medallist said.
Primed for a high-pressure debut, Chauhan concedes that the presence of her parents in the range does put her under some pressure, but insists she is well prepared to perform in front of the home crowd.
"I understand there will be some pressure during the competition, and as an athlete, you have no choice but to deal with it. However, I have prepared well and am not worried," she added.
Chauhan's shooting career started with the 2016 Nationals, where she debuted in the prone category. She then moved to 3-Positions before finishing on the podium two years later. The transition has been swift and seamless.
"When I first came to the senior camp, I didn't know any shooters, but all of them very really nice and accommodating. Now, I feel a part of the team and the bonding in the group is excellent. The only advice I get from them is to focus on my game and not bother about the results or quota."
The women's 50-metre 3 Positions event begins on 25 March, where the debutant will be accompanied by experienced shooters Tejaswini Sawant and Gaayathri Nithyanandam. The daughter of an iron fitter from Bhopal, who once dreamt of tearing through the skies, will have her chance to fly, albeit in a different playing field. By the looks of it, Sunidhi Chauhan is ready to soar.
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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2019 12:03:31 IST