TOP GUN

SH­A­GUN CHOWD­HARY

India Today - - WOMAN - OLINA BAN­ERJI

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-

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