In­dia’s ace pis­tol shooter Heena Sidhu on the phi­los­o­phy that helps her bal­ance vic­tory and de­feat both on and off the shoot­ing range

Mid Day - - NEWS - » P38-39 LAX­MAN SINGH lax­man.s@mid-day.com

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


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

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