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Komal Panwar

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EXCLUSIVE: JWB Meets Olympic Shooter Shagun Chowdhary At The 6th Global Mentoring Walk, Jaipur

  • IWB Post
  •  March 5, 2016

 

JWB has always been about breaking stereotypes, and we happened to meet one such woman who does it every day. She’s confident, humble, believes strongly in equality. She was one of the chief guests at the Vital Voices 6th Global Mentoring Walk, Jaipur.

We met Jaipur’s prodigal shooter Shagun Chowdhary, who, by the way, is also the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympic Trap Shoot. Gosh, are we proud! She addressed the mentors and mentees by sharing her personal life experience; and believe you me, the positivity she brought with her was prominent.

As she was introduced by the flag bearer of the event, Archana Surana, she began.

Women and sports in our country didn’t go well with each other until a couple of years ago. When I started shooting, and I used to visit uncles and aunties with my parents, they always asked what I was up to. My answer, of course, was always that I was a Shooter, so yeah, I was shooting. They said, oh yeah, all that is fine, but other than that, what are you doing?

The audience let out a chuckle. It was so true, though. I think most ‘uncles and aunties’ tend to think that if we’re not doing a job, or are not doctors and engineers, we’re just wasting our lives.

Global Mentoring Walk Jaipur

Shagun and event Flag-bearer Archana Surana

My mom had these dreams for me to be a Doctor or an Engineer, she wished for a prefix before my name. So I took up Economics honors, but it didn’t feel right. I started shooting, and oh my god, it was a nightmare for her. In 2003, I entered the Indian shooting team, and I’d like to add that when I started shooting, there were two girls only, I was the second, in an entirely male dominated sport. Even when I made it to the team, they thought we’d just go shopping and sightseeing. No one took us seriously.”

“The whole mindset was to be dealt with here. I remember, in 2011, that was a time that no girl had actually won a quota to the Olympics Clavicle Shooting. When I won the quota, the first person to do so from India, I came back home and told my mom that I was sorry I couldn’t give her a Dr. or an Er. before my name but I gave her an Olympic. She’s the one now, who pushes me and motivates me to keep working.

The applause continued.

It all boils down to this that really, nothing is impossible, I know it’s a very clichéd line to speak, but that doesn’t make it less true. Because guess what, now we’re a force of 80 women.”

After the walk, JWB got a chance to visit Shagun and ask her a few more questions.

Me: How was your experience with the Mentoring Walk?

Shagun: Oh, it was fabulous. I think it’s very important for experienced people to guide youngsters because they can learn a lot from someone else’s life. At the same time, it was an unlearning experience for the mentors. As in, we see how people who are older are fixed in their thoughts, whereas, youngsters are more open to ideas. It’s amazing how parents have evolved and become more open-minded over the years, also how bravely they are pushing their children towards diverse careers that they find interest in.Shagun Chowdhary

Me: Let’s begin with the top questions that are ‘shot’ at you usually. How did shooting happen, did you always know you wanted to be a shooter?

Shagun (chuckles): I was lucky that my father was actually the one who pushed me and inspired me all the time to pursue shooting. When I was a kid, I wanted to do whatever mum wanted me to do!Shagun Chowdhary

Me: Did your parents ever have conflicts about your career?

Shagun: Yes, there was always a tussle at home. When my father wanted me to appear for competitions, my mother would be worried about my academics, as my exams would be around the corner. Now, they’re both on the same page, so things are much easier.

Me: How did it feel when you got to know that you had qualified for the Olympics?

Shagun: I was at the World Championship shooting my last round, and was very focused. My father was standing behind me and watching. Against me, there was an American, a Chinese, an Australian, and there was only one quota for the Olympics. I happened to win that, and my father was looking at me, and I was like what? He came up to me and gave me a hug and said, “Baby, we’re going to London.”

Shagun chowdhary

Me: Wow! Oh my God! I have a few fun questions for you, now.

She chuckled, as I continued.

Me: Who would you take a bullet for?

Shagun: My family! Yeah, these are fun questions!

Me: Haha, more coming up! What question irritates you the most?

Shagun: “When will you get married.”

Me: OMG, I have a similar one! Cupid is a shooter, so what advice would you like to give it?

Shagun: Um, you better aim right!

Shagun Chowdhary

Me: Have you won against Cupid or has it won against you?

Shagun: Well, Cupid still hasn’t aimed right!

Me: What’s one feminine ritual you do before you go for shooting?

Shagun: I like to be well groomed, so I put on some Kajal, a lot of sunscreen as I don’t want to look all scruffy.Shagun Chowdhary

Me: Do you pray before you leave?

Shagun: I eat breakfast!

Me (chuckling): At JWB, we keep fangirling over you, who do YOU fangirl over?

Shagun: Um, I think I look up to my father as the perfect idol!

Shagun Chowdhary

Me: What’s your opinion on women’s reservation?

Shagun: I wouldn’t support it wholeheartedly in other countries, but because there’s a lot of gender bias in India, I think it’s necessary. That’s because we are still far away from equality.

Shagun Chowdhary

Me: What do you think is the perfect way to Women Empowerment?

Shagun: Keep defying the odds, keep changing perceptions of people.

Me: Are sports in India rising, and being given the importance they deserve?

Shagun: It’s getting better, but it’s going to take a lot of time.

Shagun Chowdhary

Me: How would you give back to the sports world as a woman?

Shagun: I’d like to make things easier for those who don’t have anyone to look up to. I’d try that what I achieved in 10 years; they’d complete in lesser time.

Me: What kind of chances does India have at this year’s Olympics in Rio?Shagun Chowdhary

Shagun:  India is definitely looking up! Our Jaipur girl Apurvi Chandela has a lot of attention and hopes on her, so yeah, things are slowly getting better!

Jaipur is gifting the world sportswomen like Shagun and Apurvi, not to mention many artists, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals. And this year, thanks to the 6th Global Mentoring Walk Jaipur. JWB got a chance to discover more Shaguns and Apurvis.

Photo Courtesy: Sanchit Sethi & Zumar Far

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