Haryana junior shooter Ramita Jindal likes her numbers. An accounts student in high school who enjoyed the subject along with finance, Jindal’s love for numbers would often extend onto the shooting range. But this number crunching would come at a cost. She would often calculate her scores while shooting, keep track of where she was, and that dominated her thoughts while shooting at domestic and international competitions. And at the highest level, that approach had to be written off.
At the ISSF World Championships though, the 18-year-old Ladwa resident from Kurukshetra kept her cool against Chinese athlete Ying Shen, in the junior women’s 10m air rifle final in Cairo, Egypt, to become the junior world champion. Jindal, who was once trailing 3-5 in the final, emerged as the champion with a 16-12 margin. She triumphed in an eight-shooter final which included two fellow Indian shooters, two Chinese, one American, one Korean and one Iranian shooter.
“Accounts and finance have been my favourite subjects for a long time and I had this habit of doing the calculations of my scores in my mind – whether it is nationals or international competitions. It was only after discussions with my coaches that I started concentrating on the process of each shot rather than the scores. Achi baat yeh hai ki maine har shot control kar ke chalaya (The good thing is that I shot each shot with control),” said the Haryana shooter while speaking with The Indian Express from Cairo.
The daughter of a tax advisor, a young Jindal would initially start as a pistol shooter under coach Jagbir Singh at the Karan Shooting Academy in the town of Ladwa near Kurukshetra. Mere months after she had started pistol shooting, Singh, a former Indian Army instructor, put a rifle in the hands of Jindal, acknowledging the high concentration levels of the youngster.
“Ramita would always be busy reading books and we wanted her to start a sport. When we took her to the range, it interested her so much that she never missed her training sessions. The approach road to the academy was not even carpeted and shooters would carry their shoes in one hand and equipment in second hand to walk on the muddy path,” remembers father Arvind Jindal.
A bronze medal in the ISSF World Championships in Peru was followed by her winning the 10m air rifle title in this year’s Khelo India Youth Games and National Games prior to the world championships in Cairo. “When I decided to make her shift to rifle, she was excited about the challenge of carrying heavier equipment. Her standing posture was good compared to an average youth of her age. We had to work on her wrist position and later she competed in 300m open-sight rifle events. She would tackle the recoiling of the 300m rifle too with ease,” remembers coach Jagbir Singh.
On Wednesday, Jindal qualified for the ranking match with a score of 629.6 in fourth place behind team-mate Tilottama Sen (633.4), Chinese shooters Yafei Liu (633.00) and Ying Shen (629.7). Competing in the new format, Jindal was placed fifth after the first series before topping the ranking series to enter the gold medal match against Shen.
In the final, Jindal started with a shot of 10.6 but Shen’s opening shot of 10.7 saw the Chinese go ahead. Jindal, who shot each of her shots in the gold medal match before the Chinese in the 15-second time frame, trailed her opponent twice till the seventh set before she tied the Chinese 8-8. She then took a 12-8 lead before Shen came back to tie the scores at 12-12. From there, her next two shots were a 10.8 and 10.7 to seal gold. “In the finals, while every shot is important, we can make a comeback. But in the finals, I like maintaining my own rhythm against the opponent. Hence I shoot according to my time which is usually quick and each high-scoring shot gives me confidence,” said Jindal.
The Indian shot seven scores in excess of 10.6 as compared to Shen’s eight scores in excess of 10.6 and above. But it was her composure in key moments which saw her making the comeback and winning the gold medal. Those key moments landed enough pressure on the Chinese shooter to take an early time-out and for her Indian counterpart to take none. “We don’t use the word pressure with our shooters. We have concentrated more on them not delaying the shots much and shooting in dual matches in the camp too has helped. We knew that we would only take a time-out if needed but Ramita’s consistent shooting did not even give us a chance(laughs),” said national rifle coach Manoj Kumar.
As for Jindal, she would listen to some piano and guitar post her win. “I idolise Anjum di and wish to shoot consistently in the 10m air rifle as well 3P events. I have not met Abhinav Bindra sir and would like to take tips from him someday,” shared the Indian.