Six months before the Rio Olympics, when India’s rifle coach Stansilav Lapidaus quit, Elizabeth Susan Koshy was upset. The departure of the coach came at the wrong time for the Kerala shooter who had won a gold medal at the 2015 National Games.
For two years, she struggled with her performance, but making it to the national team and winning a bronze medal at the national shooting championships in Thiruvananthapuram in 2017, the year in which she last won the gold medal at the Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Masters tournament.
But on Wednesday, Koshy turned back the clock and won her first medal after two years at the same masters event in New Delhi.
“Coach Lapidus was the backbone to my shooting. After he left Indian shooting, I lacked the guidance. Of course, I have worked with many other coaches. But he took me to the number one in the country,” Koshy said after win in the capital.
Shooting in a world-class field which consisted of former world champion Tejashwini Sawant, Anjum Moudgil and World Cup silver medallist Lajja Goswami, Koshy won a the gold medal in the women’s 3-position rifle event.
“Honestly I was not thinking about winning. In the last year and a half I have been struggling with my shooting. But hard work pays off,” she said.
“Only last three-four trials I have been reaching into the finals earlier it was not happening.
“I was not getting the feel in my shooting. However, I told myself that it would not be an excuse. But I wanted to prove it that I can overcome this.”
With her mother in the stands, Koshy did exactly that on Wednesday. After qualifying for the finals with a modest score of 1161, Koshy improved her shooting as the finals progressed. Beginning with the kneeling position, she shot a score of 152.1 and was in third place. Anjali Bhagwat was in second position and 1.6 point behind leader Lajja.
But Koshy moved to the top position after 15 shots of prone and led the field throughout the round. By the time standing position came, Kohsy led by three points. Sawant continued her good shooting and claimed the silver medal. KC Hema of Gujarat claimed the bronze, after having qualified in the eighth place.
While she shot a very good score in the final, Koshy thought that it is still not her best effort in the final round. More than winning the medal, she is focussed on improving her score which will help her regain her spot in the Indian team.
“The shots were going better much more that I was shooting. The score is what I am focussed on because I was not feeling the best. Qualifying score can be better and I will continue to work,” she said.
The 25-year-old also wants to make sure that her hard work in practice is replicated on the shooting range.
“I was shooting 40 shots everyday when things were not working. Earlier I used to do 20 and feel like that is enough. But now I do 40 which is like a match and muscles feel good and you don’t feel that extra effort in the match,” she said.
Elsewhere, Air India’s Annuraj Singh and Deepak Sharma won the 10m air pistol mixed team competition, getting the better of ONGC’s Shweta Singh and Amanpreet Singh 17-5 in the gold medal match.
Senior shooter Gurpreet Singh of the Army also bagged his second title of the meet, picking up the men’s 25m standard pistol gold to go with his centre fire pistol gold he won on Tuesday.