‘SHOOTING IS A WAY OF LIFE, NOT A SPORT’
India’s ace pistol shooter Heena Sidhu on the philosophy that helps her balance victory and defeat both on and off the shooting range
In the latest episode of mid-day’s mentoring series, pistol shooter Heena Sidhu talks about her craft and guides Mumbai’s young guns on how to balance studies and their passion
PROFESSIONAL shooters have strict diets, and if you are a star with multiple World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medals, things are obviously more stringent.
However, the Punjabi in ace pistol shooter Heena Sidhu couldn’t resist relishing some hot parathas almost as soon as she entered the mid-day office recently for a brand new episode of Meet Your Icon, where young fans get the opportunity to come face-to-face with their sporting heroes.
“Cofee is my weakness and since I’m not training at the moment, I can have some,” said Sidhu, almost covering up for her guilty pleasure, “And being a Punjabi, I cannot say no to parathas,” she said cracking us all up.
In a detailed interaction with mid-day, Heena spoke of how her journey as a shooter began, by the swapping of metals, when she had to put away dentistry equipment to pick up a gun. She touched upon her No. 1 ranking in 2014 and highs and lows thereafter.
Heena loves art and all things that define human performance. She also spoke about her life on and off the shooting range with her coach — husband Ronak Pandit. studying for my graduation, I went to my first Olympics [London 2012]. So just before the Games, I was training and studying for my exams and treating patients — all at the same time. It was very hectic. That’s when I realised that I can’t be doing this. Eventually, I have to decide what I wanted to do. I can’t be half a dentist and half a shooter. That way, I won’t be good at either. At my first Olympics, I also realised how close I was because I lost my
EXCERPTS FROM THE CONVERSATION:
finals in the last three shots. I was going fifth and sixth and if my last three shots were 10s, I would have made it to the finals. So that made me decide to take up shooting as a profession. No, not instantly. I met Ronak in 2009 through a common friend and in 2010 we were training together under the same coach. That’s when I started talking to him and we went out for lunches and dinners, all of us trainees as a group. That’s when I got to know him better. In 2012, when I went
‘Before my first Olympic Games [London 2012], I was studying for my graduation [dentistry]. So, I was training as well as treating patients
to my first Olympics, my coach then began training the Indian team while I wanted to train alone. That’s when Ronak decided to help me with my training. So, a friend became a coach and then a husband. As for the pros, he knows the sport and has beenthere-done-that many times. He makes sure he is still shooting, so that he understands the shooter’s point of view. And of course, he knows me a lot better than anyone else. So, he brings that combination of knowing me and knowing the sport, when he is coaching me. As for the cons, I think it’s very difficult to switch off when your husband is also your coach because you don’t tend to leave behind shooting at the range. When you come home, you keep talking about shooting. So there has to be that balance. You have to learn how to strike that balance. For other shooters, they work with their coach and then have their normal life where they go out, meet friends, watch TV and sort of switch off. So we had to learn how to switch off. Yes, that’s exactly what I was just telling you. It’s very important to switch off. But when we three are together, we talk about shooting in general and not about what I am doing or where I am going. We talk about what can be done for the sport or what’s going on at the range. What’s happening at the NRAI [National Rifle Association of India], when are the next matches and stuff. It’s not about me.
Heena Sidhu with young fans and members of the mid-day sports team during a Meet Your Icon event.
India’s champion pistol shooter Heena Sidhu enjoys some parathas with chutney at the mid-day office in Bandra