‘Missing Olympics by a whisker was terrible’

Anish Bhanwala, a 17-year-old promising shooter, talks to The Daily Guardian about his successes and failures in life.

Shooter Anish Bhanwala.
Shooter Anish Bhanwala.

Q. You are from Haryana where wrestling and boxing are celebrated by the people, why did you pursue shooting?

A. Well, I picked swimming first. Later I started running and added shooting after a while. With the pack of sports, I participated in Pentathlon. I did fairly well there. But the pressure of study and involvement in so many sports took a heavy toll. So I sacrificed swimming and running. From the early days of 2014 onwards, I decided to push my limits in shooting only.

 Q. Tell us something about your family?

A. My father is in agriculture and also an advocate. My sister was a well-known shooter. She fetched a lot of medals from various ranges around the world. Right now, she is pursuing her MBBS degree.

 Q. You focus on 25m rapid fire pistol. Why?

A. Actually, it’s an Olympic event and this category is a constant in all major international competitions. So, to bring the big medal, I focus on the rapid-fire mostly.

Q. Can you tell our readers about your sweetest and saddest moments of life?

A. My best moment came when I broke the World record in my first international competition. It happened at Suhl in the 2017 World Cup. I crashed a 15-year standing record of 574 and took the mark to a new height of 579. I also felt equally happy when I stood in the middle of the podium in the Commonwealth Games. I was only 15 then.

 I was at my lowest when I missed the ticket to Tokyo 2020 by a whisker. I participated in the Asian championship in Doha. Top 10 was getting a place for the Olympics. I finished 11th.

 Q. When did you feel the most intense amount of pressure in your career?

 A. During the whole period of the Commonwealth Games, I underwent this phase. That was my biggest competition and maximum eyes were on my performance. I am happy that I came out with flying colours.

Q. Where do you perceive yourself 10 years from now?

A. I am only 17. So, it’s too early to judge the course of my career. But yes, I want to continue shooting and bring more glory to the nation.

Q. How are you practising amidst the lockdown?

 A. I have made a makeshift range of 10m at my residence. On it, I am maintaining my rhythm. I am leaving no stone unturned as far as practice is concerned.

Q. Shooting is the most demanding game when it comes to the aspect of mental toughness. What special you do for focus and concentration?

A. Meditation and yoga (especially Pranayama) are well-known methods. If I say it helps then I am partially correct. The pressure is bound to come into tournaments. The guidance of coaches, confidence, and experience is of more importance there.

Q. How will you connect the relationship between physical workouts in a mental game like shooting?

 A. It’s vital. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. To hold the weapon, maintain grip, and confidence you need a solid frame. That’s why I hit the gym for about an hour daily.

Q. Anything else you are doing in these homebound hours?

A. Well, I am following a tight routine and focussing on shooting as usual. I am spending time with family, which earlier was a tough call.

Q. Finally, something do you want to convey to the youth?

A. A combination of sports and study is necessary for life. Sports teach many aspects of life. But it is a very risky business. The study gives you a backup.