Interview with Jitu Rai
OGQ spoke to the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion about his preparations on the Road to Rio 2016
Q. You were the first Indian to win a quota for Rio Olympics. How did it feel when you won the quota at the world championships in 2014?
Jitu: I was feeling the pressure at the world championship as it was the first Olympic qualification event. I had planned how I would play the final and at the end I was very happy when I won the quota for India at the very first opportunity and with it a silver medal as well.
Q. Take us through your early days in Shooting. How did you come into shooting?
Jitu: In 2007 I joined the Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army. Actually I was not too interested in shooting. I had never even seen anyone shooting. Army coach GR Garbaraj Rai "ne danda laga ke karaya shooting". I am really grateful to him today. The first gun I used was a 9mm pistol. In 2009, I went to the Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow where I was not selected in the army team and was sent back to my Lucknow unit. After that setback, I worked very hard day in day out to improve my skills in the 10m air pistol event. I started free pistol only in 2013 and I am very glad that I won a quota in free pistol in 2014.
Q. What is your plan in the lead up to the Rio Olympics. Have you changed anything in your training?
Jitu: No I haven’t changed anything since 2014 be it my approach to a match, technical training or physical fitness. I don’t think that I need to train abroad or under a foreign coach or do things differently. I analyse my game myself and plan out the training schedule. I really like to believe in myself and trust the way I train. I am happy with the way my training is going on at the moment. The Indian Army and OGQ have played a very important role in my training. At OGQ, whatever I ask for related to my training, I get only one answer ‘Jitu ho jayega’.
Q. How do you relax and unwind?
Jitu: My way of relaxing is a bit strange. Whenever I take rest I don’t feel relaxed, it is very tough for me when my coach tells me to take rest for a day or two. I am very relaxed and get good sleep only when I do my physical fitness properly.
Q. Tell us about your family and your native place in Nepal.
Jitu: I hail from a middle class family. My village is in the middle of a forest. I was born and bought up in that forest. My father used to do farming before he joined the army. My father passed away 9 years ago and after that I joined the Army. It was then I thought to myself that I must do something big for my family. My mother was not aware that I was in the Indian shooting team and was winning medals for India till the time she came to New Delhi when I got the prestigious Arjuna Award last year. I am really happy that I have made a career for myself in shooting.
Q. Who is your favorite athlete? favorite Bollywood actor/actress?
Jitu: My favorite player is a volleyball player from my village as he was the first sportsperson I knew and I love playing volleyball as well. My favorite shooter is London Olympic Silver medalist Vijay Kumar. He has guided me a lot in my journey till now. I don’t have one favorite actress because I like everyone (laughs) but my favorite actor is Aamir Khan.
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