Sanjeev Rajput always had some “some unfinished business” after being snubbed for the 2016 Rio Olympics and ace marksman wants to accomplish his goals in next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The 38-year-old from Haryana secured India’s eighth Olympic quota in shooting with a silver medal finish in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions at the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro last week.
“I feel my performance was really good. I have been waiting for this last one year,” Rajput, who shot 462.0 in the finals to miss out of the gold to Petar Gorsa of Croatia (462.2), said during a function in New Delhi.
“I was determined to clinch an Olympic quota at the World Cup as it was my last chance. I have done well in Asian Championship but winning an Olympic quota is different. So I wanted to get it here (in Rio) itself,” Rajput said.
The Rio World Cup was the penultimate event to secure an Olympic quota before the Asian Championship in Doha in November.
He missed out of the Rio Olympics despite securing the quota after the National Rifle Association of India replaced him with trap shooter Manavjit Sandhu in the Olympic contingent.
Rajput said that the incident spurred him and he went about his business during the World Cup as if he is competing at the Olympics.
“In my mind, I was competing at the Olympics, which I couldn’t at Rio in 2016,” he said.
The Haryana shooter said changing a barrel in his rifle helped him to score big at the World Cup.
“It has happened because of the barrel which I changed. The approval was given by SAI and I went to a weapon manufacturing factory in Switzerland a month before the World Cup and I managed to score big at the Rio event,” he said.
Rajput survived some anxious moment during the qualification round when one of his shots showed a ‘no-score’ because of a scoreboard malfunction.
“I was good even in elimination round. In kneeling position, I shot 396 but there was a target malfunction and it was showing 39 shots out of 40. So I protested and I felt the rifle came out. They gave me an another shot after 24 minutes.
“But by the time, I completed my kneeling position, the weather conditions changed, the wind was more and most of the top shooters had finished their kneeling and prone position.
“So in this weather condition, chances of getting 9 is more. It was difficult, there was anxiety but I cooled down myself and I managed somehow with my experience,” he added.
Asked what are his plans in the run up to the Olympics, Rajput said: “I have got very good scores and my world ranking is also good. I have my own strategy. I will compete at the Asian Championship. There is also National Championship and we have a World Cup in New Delhi, which will be an Olympic selection event.”
“I have already done well in many international tournaments, which will be counted for Olympic provisional score sheet. I will focus on the few tournaments left and focus on medals,” he revealed
Sanjeev also had to deal with problems outside the range when he was accused of rape in 2016. He denied the allegation and the matter is currently sub-judice.
“Whatever difficulties you get it makes you tougher. I believe I am stronger now. I know it will end on its own time. You know how the judiciary works, it is still going on but I know it will be in my favour,” he signed off.