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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Arjuna Award Winner, Archer Rajat Chauhan, Aims At The Govt. With Anger

  • IWB Post
  •  September 19, 2016

 

Rajat Chauhan took up sports as an excuse to bunk classes, but now, winning an Olympic medal is his dream.

Originally from Sanganer, Rajat moved to Jaipur in 2007. In Sanganer, he was a Yellow Belt in Taekwondo. However, after coming to Jaipur, many options opened for him. On the insistence of his elder brother, he chose Archery.

“Initially, my inclination towards sports was majorly because of the reason that I could bunk classes, and even my family didn’t mind my low scores in academics as they knew I was focusing on my game,” confessed Rajat in a candid chat with JWB.

“I remember how I chose Archery. My elder brother had given me a few options, but, I couldn’t make up my mind. So, I just went to SMS stadium with a friend on his bike. We entered from the Tonk Road side, and the first ground I saw was of Archery and so I took it as a God’s sign,” he added.

“Whoa!” I gasped.

Call it destiny, because soon, Rajat realized that this is exactly what he wanted to pursue.img_5

“I played school district and state level in 2007, but, came at 4th place and missed a medal by mere one point. This was the time I started taking the sport seriously. I was determined to pursue my career in Archery, and I knew I had to work hard to bag a place in the team.”

Just two months after losing the place in State event, he participated in Open State held in Ganganagar and won Individual Gold in 30m distance and Silver in 20m distance event.

And then there was no looking back. He has won dozens of medals since then and has participated in numerous states, national and international games. In 2014, he became the first archer from India to qualify for the World Cup Finals. Also, he won the Silver medal in the World Championship in the same year and became the first Indian archer to bag an individual medal in the sport.

On August 29th, Rajat was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award for his contribution to the sport in India.

However, one day prior to receiving the Arjuna Award, Rajat decided to give up on the compound archery that he had been doing for so long.

WHY? Is this what you are wondering, too?

Well, I too, was surprised when Rajat told me this, and he saw it on my face and explained me the reason behind such a drastic step.img_7

“Before the actual award ceremony, there was a rehearsal, and I met PV Sindhu there. When I took her silver medal in my hand, I swear it was heavier than any of my medals. It was at that moment I decided to win an Olympic medal, myself.”

“But why did you give up on compound archery for it?” I asked.

“Well, because in Olympics the Archery event uses the Recurve bow and not the compound one. This is why I had to give up on it,” he said without a hint of hesitation in his voice.

Not knowing too much about Archery, I had to ask the difference between the two.img_4

Well, in India specifically, there are three types of bows. First is the wooden one, second is the compound, and third is the recurve bow. I started practicing with wooden bows but shifted to compound as wooden is only used in Indian competitions. So, until now, I have been a compound archer. The compound bow is a modern bow that has sight scope, peep sight for better focus whereas the recurve is a traditional bow that only has a pin for focus. While, in the recurve bow, we have to depend totally on finger release and our ability to pull it hard, the compound has a trigger release which means one doesn’t have to apply too much force to release the arrow,” he explained to me in great details.img_1

*feeling smart knowing so much technical stuff about archery* 

He continued, “All international games except Olympics has compound archery event. But, my next target is an Olympic medal, so I have given up on the compound and took up recurve bow training.”

“Wasn’t it a difficult decision? And were your family and coach okay with this major switch?” intrigued, I asked.

“I am a very positive and determined person. My family has always supported me, and my coach Dushyant Mishra Ji has already started training me. Of course, there are people who told me that it’s a wrong decision. Well, they are the ones who didn’t even believe that I could win a medal in Archery. So, it doesn’t matter what others think. My next target is to win an Olympic medal and Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna, and I will give my cent percent to make sure I achieve it.”

“Next Olympics games are in 2020. Will you also be participating in other national and international games in recurve event?”img_6

“Ummm… That shall depend on how prepared I am. See, the Nationals are coming up in December, but I will only participate if my coach and I feel that I am trained enough to compete, else, will try from next year.”

India could win just two medals in this Olympics. Do you think that it has something to do with the infrastructure and support by the government?” I enquired.

“Totally! I have always been infamous for bad-mouthing the Government. But, I am not scared because everyone knows that I am speaking the truth, no matter how bitter it is. You can see for yourself here. There’re switchboards but no electricity, no fans, no light, no grass on the field. In fact, there’s no water. Every day we have to get water camper from Sports Council Office. It’s the same for all grounds,” he said furiously.

“I wasn’t given Archery equipment from the Government until I was representing India at international level. Here, too, there are approx 25 archery sets and out of these only four are provided by the Government. The cost of one such set is two and a half lacs approx,” he continued.”For Olympics, too, Government announced a Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), but only provided the players with needed equipment when they were qualified for the Rio Games. Everything was on paper, and in actual, players had no or minimal support.”

He added further, “I don’t expect anything from the Government. I want to win an Olympic medal, and I am capable of winning it on my won.”

Though he seemed calm, I could see the rage in his eyes.

“Of course, people have won medals without any Government’s support. But, there are so many players who give up on their dreams because they cannot afford to carry on,” he concluded.

In the end, Rajat introduced us to a boy and said, “His father is a gardener and every day, he travels 40km to reach here. He wants to become an archer but has no means. Seeing his passion, I got him the compound archery set, and whenever possible, I also train him during my practice.”archer rajat chauhan
We laud Rajat’s sportsmanship and wish him all the luck for his Olympics 2020 preparations. We know you’ll grab one and then we’ll proudly boast, “Hey! We met him.”

*sprinkling lots of Magic Dust*

Photo Courtesy: Akshit Agarwal

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