Paris Olympics: Asian Games gold medallist Samra grabs eyeballs at Khelo India

I never chose 50m rifle three positions, rather it chose me, says one of India’s medal prospects

Samra shows off her medals at the Khelo India University Games in Guwahati (photo: SAI).
Samra shows off her medals at the Khelo India University Games in Guwahati (photo: SAI).

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It’s not often that one bumps into an Asian Games gold medallist and a world recordholder shooter at a Khelo India University Games, but then Sift Kaur Samra did not want to let this opportunity go to test some changes in her training method ahead of a busy season leading to the Paris Olympics.

One of the earliest candidates to seal a Paris berth in a World Cup last year in Baku, the 22-year-old, Sift was a celebrity of sorts at the students’ Games as she landed a bronze in her pet event of 50m rifle three positions at the Kahilipara Shooting Range in Guwahati and also teamed up with Ashi Chouksey, who won the individual gold and Vanshika Sahil to clinch the team gold for Guru Nanak Dev University.

“For me personally, this match was very good because I have done some changes in the training and I tried them here before other main competitions. So, I think this is a very good thing,’’ said Sift, whose best efforts could not ensure her a gold and underlined the level of competition in the Games.

Though Sift has won a Paris Olympic quota, it’s imperative that she maintains her form during the selection trials conducted by National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) in the next few months. The former student of medicine also needs to perform at her best in international meets as the competition for a spot on the flight to Paris among Indian shooters is quite rigorous this time.

Looking back at her journey from being a junior shooter till 2021 to one of the Olympic medal prospects, Samra told National Herald recently: ‘’From junior to senior, it has been a great journey for me. When I won my first gold in the junior World Cup, I thought that if I can win a gold here then I can perform well as senior too. It was a good journey and hopefully 2024 also stays the same.’’

While shooting had been one of the major catalysts behind India’s growth as a sporting power (alongwith athletics, it accounted for more than 50% of India’s 107 medals in the last Asian Games), Samra’s task in a demanding event like the 50m Rifle three positions is not easy. Asked what made her chose it, the shooter said: ‘’I would love to say that I never choose 3P, it’s 3P who chose me as I was a 10 m shooter and I was told that I should play 50 m so that I can import the weapon and prepare 50 m. When I performed my first national, it was really good and after that I had really good 50 m matches. So yes, 50 m is really good for me.’’

Samra is now at the helm of NRAI’s Qlympic qualification rankings in 50m Rifle 3-position and the next two trials scheduled at the last week of February in Bhopal. “I am thinking that (heading into the Paris Olympics) I should perform better than the Asian Games and for that, I am training and I am doing all that I can do from my side,” she said.

Sift is supported by the Sports Ministry through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and was candid that her journey couldn’t have come this far without the government support.

“We all know that shooting is a very expensive game, but the TOP Scheme has made it easier for athletes like us to follow our passion as it provides financial support to athletes, particularly those in the developmental stage, by assisting with the costs associated with ammunition, equipment and other essential elements of their training,” she added.

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