The retired Indian shooter also served as the Union Sports Minister of the country.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore etched his name in the history books when he became the first Indian shooter to win an Olympic medal. He performed brilliantly in the double trap event and won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
However, his journey wasn’t easy as he had to go through rigorous training for a long period to achieve his goal. He also had to tackle the negativity regarding the Olympic Games and India.
“Things were very different then. Way back in 2004, India was not winning many medals in shooting at the Olympics,” said Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore during a Sony TV show The Medal of Glory.
“Infact, the environment was such that there was always a certain degree of negativity around when it came to the Olympics and India. But, I had a sense of determination that if I am going to go to the Olympics and I am going to win a medal. I will not just go there to participate.”
The pressure of a big stage such as the Olympics has always been overwhelming for Indian athletes and it gets the better of them more often than not. Rathore knew all this and mentally prepared himself for the competition.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore remarked, “Each day in the build-up to the 2004 Olympics was full of very hard training. I also worked in a way that my first Olympics should not overawe me. I felt that when I reach there I should feel at home, be familiar with the surroundings. I had taken a lot of videos and pictures of the Olympic shooting range.”
“I used to see that every day before I used to go to sleep. I visualized myself standing in the arena and shooting there, in front of all the cameras, so that I do not get overawed when I reach there.”
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was among the world’s best shooters before the start of the tournament, but he found himself struggling after the opening two rounds in the qualification event, as he was lying in 13th spot. However, he didn’t lose sight of his Olympic dream under pressure and booked his place in the final six, as the fifth-best shooter in the competition.
“All through the build-up to the Olympics, I had been No. 1 or No. 3 in the world. I had proven to myself in the run up to the Olympics that I was among the best in the world. I told myself that there is no reason for me to be out of the top six and lying 13th is unacceptable. I shot a brilliant third round and I jumped to the fifth spot,” he concluded.