India’s premier shooter in the 10-meter air rifle category Arjun Babuta won the gold medal in the recently concluded ISSF World Cup 2022. In the final clash, Arjun defeated Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Lucas Kozeniesky of the USA with a lopsided 17-9 margin. After the gold in WC, Arjun has set his eyes on a strong performance at the World Championship where he could secure a quota for the Paris Olympics.
In an exclusive interview with Zee News, Arjun talked about his journey as India’s one of the best shooters, his training routine and his inspirations.
Beating Tokyo Olympic silver medalist in the World Cup must be a proud moment for you tells us about that.
Honestly, I was not thinking about that. I was not scared. I just wanted to give my best. I was not even aware that Lucas Kozeniesky is the silver medalist from Tokyo.
You have won a bronze medal in the Junior World Cup as well so talk us through your journey as a shooter.
I started it in 2011 when my father read about shooting in a newspaper. He researched about it and then we went to Lt Col JS Dhillon. From their Abhinav Bindra, sir started. It all begin there, I progressed over time. In 2015 I was selected for the India squad. There I found Dipali Deshpande mam and from there on I am with her and I think I am in the right hand.
With the Asian Games postponed by a year, does that help in your preparation?
My main goal was the Asian games itself but it got postponed. It was not pleasant news for me. But I never stopped my training. It is still on and now I am preparing for the World Championship this year. We will get our Olympic quotas from there and I will aim to give my best there. Next year I will compete in the Asian Games as well.
No shooting in CWG 2022 and 2026, what are your views on this?
When I got the news of no shooting in the Commonwealth Games 2022, I was travelling with my friend to the shooting range. The news was sad for us and we were disheartened. As you know, shooting dominates in the medal tally when you look at Commonwealth Games. So it was a big blow for us. But I am wishing all the Indian athletes who are going for the CWG. I wish they bag more medals than shooting does every time.
There’s a dearth of competition around the world due to the pandemic, is that hurting your preparations?
For me, It was the right time to focus on the things that I wanted to do for a long long time. I wanted to experiment a lot in the shooting. I wanted to focus a lot on my fitness and changed a lot of things. And thankfully when the competition started, I scored really good as I had used the time to my benefit. Also, I got support from SportsApp. I am benefitting from brand sponsorships currently. An athlete requires support and access to shine and rise to such heights.
In the last two Olympics India has not won a single medal in shooting, what do you think is the reason behind it and how could we improve our medal tally?
I think the preparation and all were good. Athletes worked way harder than they were supposed to. I think that is the main reason as they did not get enough time for mental and physical recovery. They needed to relax a bit. However, I am very sure that in 2024 we will claim medals in Olympics.
India is a cricket-crazy country. Why do you think it is difficult for other sports to get popular?
Definitely, there is a lot of attention directed toward cricket. This is a problem with shooting as it is not very user-friendly. I think there needs to be more broadcasting and awareness that needs to be generated. We need to let young talents in our country take up other sports as a career and not just cricket.
India has produced many shooters over the past two decades, right from Rajvardhan Singh Rathore, and Abhinav Bindra to Gagan Narag. Who inspired you to take up shooting as a career?
I get inspired by Abhinav Bindra sir, actually, all of them have helped me in my career. Gagan sir helped me with my training during the lockdown time. I also get inspired by athletes who are in the national team.
Who is your favourite sports personality and Why?
There are many, there is not just one name. Neeraj Chopra, Virat Kohli, Cristiano Rondlo and Roger Federer. Neeraj is my senior from college although I have never met him he has inspired the entire country with his heroics in the Tokyo Olympics 2022.
How does a shooter train himself? Talk our viewers through your daily routine.
Shooting training mostly consists of mental training, self-talk and digging into ourselves. So we really need to focus on a lot of technicalities of the game. Besides that, we have to focus on our fitness level, and our balance. We have to stay still even if our heartbeat is high.
Other than shooting are there any other sports you play?
I do play a bit of badminton.
How do you kill time when you are not training?
I love to sleep that’s my favourite thing to do apart from shooting.