National Games: 2015 edition hero Vijay Kumar has new targets to shoot down in Gujarat

On a comeback trail, India’s London Olympic silver medallist pistol shooter Vijay Kumar has a clear target in his mind for the 36th National Games, starting in Ahmedabad on September 29. He wants to better his 5-gold and one-bronze medal haul at the 2015 Games in Thiruvananthapuram.

Vijay Kumar feels he can push himself even further and win more medals than in 2015.

“That (performance) is a thing of the past. I believe I can push myself more and can even excel at the Olympic level once again. That single goal has fuelled my motivation,” the 2012 Olympic medallist says, revealing that he has been preparing for the Gujarat Games for over six months.

Vijay Kumar had taken a long sabbatical from shooting to focus on his career with the Police in Himachal Pradesh. His efforts towards that included intense academic training, field training and border training, taking up most of his time and attention.

It was only last year that he returned to shooting, hoping to dominate it one more time.

“Spending time away was not a big deal since I was providing job security for myself. It is not a big deal, either, starting the sport from scratch,” he says.

He concedes, though that muscle memory built over many years as a sport shooter was lost during Police training. “Technique goes for a toss. If one doesn’t train and compete for three or four years, one forgets the basics, the ABCD of sport. When you return at the highest level, you realise you have all but forgotten how to play,” he rues.

Vijay Kumar is clearly on the path to newer highs. “I am happy that within a year of my return to shooting, I have made it for my fourth National Games. I will try to perform well here ahead of the World Championships,” the 37-year-old said.

The World Championships will be held in Cairo from October 12.

“The competition at the National Games will be intense since the best 16 shooters in each event will be there. We have all been on the circuit, competing in championships and National trials since November last year. Each has been shooting good scores and that will make the competition really absorbing,” Vijay Kumar says.

Pushed to recall his 2015 exploits, Vijay Kumar said making the Services team for the National Games was itself an achievement since excellent shooters from Army, Air Force and Navy were in the fray.

“It was special to beat so many of the country’s best shooters to win five gold in the 2015 Games. Yes, it has been among my best efforts at home,” he said.

He had turned out for Services in the last three National Games in Guwahati (2007), Ranchi (2011) and Thiruvananthapuram (2015), but now he will wear Himachal Pradesh colours.

“There is no difference in how I view the competition, though I am representing my State now. I will, as always, try to give my best,” said the Deputy Superintendent of Police.

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