Ace trap shooter on her quest for Olympic glory
The first thing that strikes you about Shagun Choudhary, 29, when she enters the room is that she’s really tall for a girl. Well, an Indian girl. Articulate and poised, she doesn’t quite cut the typical figure of a struggling Indian athlete who languishes in the wake of the ever- ubiquitous cricketer. Five minutes into the conversation however, you realise how off you were, and how, even after decades of economic improvement, women and sport in India still don’t mix socially. “My mother wanted me to become a doctor, or pursue an MBA. Sport wasn’t really a career option for me till I won my first international medal in 2003,” she says, adding wryly that she beat the Chinese to win the bronze. Choudhary is India’s first female trap shooter to win a berth to the Olympics, which she secured in September 2011 at the Belgrade World Championships. She stood fourth there, and has since become India’s newest poster girl in our bid for a second, and much awaited Olympic gold.
Choudhary grew up in Jaipur, and was introduced to shooting at the age of two, when she began to accompany her father Sushil to the ranges. He used to shoot skeet with Maharaja Karni Singhji of Bikaner. “I used to carry a toy gun to the shooting range, and mimic my father,” she laughs. A student of Maharani Gayatri Devi Girl’s School in Jaipur, Choudhary was always a keen sportsperson. “Apart from my interest in shooting, I was also a state level swimming champion,” she adds. Thus it comes as a surprise when the current world number eight reveals that she hadn’t even picked up a shotgun till 2001. In the same year, however, Choudhary entered and won the National Shooting Championships held at the Thunderbolt ranges in Bikaner, where, as a child, she had watched her father shoot with the Maharaja.
Traditionally, sport is still male lineage— hardly ever passed on to a daughter. Choudhary’s father broke con-