New Delhi: Adarsh Singh loves attention. Happily cornered by a mob of recorder-wielding press eager to document his story, country's best male pistol shooter painted a picture of eager enthusiasm that typifies his 17 years, albeit tempered with a nerveless calm that belied his age. Come 20 February, and Adarsh will be required to summon every ounce of that composure as the year's first shooting World Cup comes to the capital.
Last December, he toppled his India teammate and defending champion Anish Bhanwala at the Shooting Nationals in Kerala to clinch gold in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol category. The duo, along with Arpit Goel, will lead India's charge in the said event. The Delhi event will also mark Adarsh's international debut in the seniors section, but the youngster is unperturbed by the pressure.
"Of course, you feel some nervousness, but I am not bogged down by the thought of World Cup or this being my seniors' debut. My aim is to get an Olympic quota for India," he says.
A total of 16 Olympic quotas will be up for grabs at the event. Seasoned women's pair of Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil have already secured two quotas in the 10-metre air rifle category when they finished fourth and second at last year's World Championship in Changwon, South Korea.
Adarsh, like many of the current crop of junior-turned-senior shooters, has steadily risen through the ranks under the tutelage of Jaspal Rana, and the youngster credits the coach for his improved fitness.
"Jaspal sir has made me more disciplined, and that has surely improved my focus. Also, he puts emphasis on physical fitness, which has helped my shooting too," says the two-time Junior World Cup medallist.
Shooting, though, was not Adarsh's first calling. He first dabbled with cricket as a wicketkeeper, and went on to represent his school — Model School, Faridabad — at the district level. However, a persistent back niggle led to him quitting the sport. Adarsh, in fact, was born with a lump near his spine, and underwent surgery just six days after his birth.
His next stop, badminton, also put undue pressure on his back, and following the advice of his father Harinder Singh, Adarsh shifted his attention to shooting.
"I remember I was nearing the end of Class VIII when I first entered the shooting range at my school, and I instantly developed a liking for the sport. Initially, my scores were not that good, but over a period of time, I grew better," he adds.
Currently, Adarsh claims to shoot in excess of 590 in practice, and should he take that form to the World Cup, he will present a strong case to enter the final on his Cup debut. That, however, is not the only thought occupying his mind. There are board exams to deal with.
"I attended school for just four days in all of 2018," he says with a sheepish grin. The Class XII student has opted for Commerce, and the CBSE's board exams start on 2 March, a day after the World Cup ends.
"I am carrying my books here, like most of the other junior shooters. We shoot in the day and study at night," he chuckles, before talking about the bonding he shares with the younger lot.
"We have a lot of fun together, both in the range and outside. We generally stick around together, though seniors are very approachable too."
Adarsh looks up to the 2012 London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar for inspiration, and Kumar's regular presence at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range has helped the youngster hone his skills.
"The fact that I train alongside Vijay sir is a big plus. His constant feedback and inputs are of great help," says the southpaw who beat his hero in the World Cup selection trials.
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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 21:09:40 IST