While Indian contingent was fighting it out in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, the Indian troika of para shooters comprising Harshit Tiwari, Rajveer Singh Sekhon and Balendu Singh on Saturday scripted history as they clinched India's first medal, a silver, in 2018 World Shooting Para Sports Trap Championships being held in Lonato, Italy.
With the medal, Harshit achieved another milestone, shattering the Asian record registering 104 points. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old shooter failed to make it to the finals of the event by a solitary point. Punjab's Rajveer Singh, 20, was the second-highest top scorer from the squad posting 101. The third shooter, 59-year-old Balendu Singh is a renowned hotelier from Rajasthan.
Talking to ANI, in a telephonic interview, Harshit said that tears started rolling down the eyes of the trio when the tricolour was being hoisted during the medal ceremony. "We had been waiting for this moment our entire lives. And while we were living it, our emotions overwhelmed us," said Harshit.
However, his journey to the top was riddled with hurdles. "I had to sell off my car in 2016 in order to support myself for the sport since the cost of ammunitions and equipment is exorbitant. However, the money did not last long and I had nowhere to go. It is then that my teammate Balendu lent me his gun and financially supported me for the National Games," stated the Bhopal shooter.
On the contrary, his other teammates are affluent and do not have to worry about either the equipment or the ammunition they use. Though, the government has funded their trip and arranged for their accommodation in Italy, still the expenses related to coaching and training were borne by the players. Harshit expressed gratitude to Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Madhya Pradesh minister for Commerce and Industries and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for backing him financially in the run-up to the coveted tournament. He has set his eyes on the 2019 Para Trap Shooting World Cup to be held in Croatia next year.
A former state-level taekwondo player, Harshit wanted to represent the country in the World Championships and the Olympics. But a bike accident in 2011 changed his life . He was confined to bed for four years undergoing 17 surgeries. A disability during the mishap robbed him of any chance of realising his dream.
Disabled from the lower limbs, he took up shooting in 2015 and make his mark by winning a national medal in 2016. In 2017, he started a fundraising campaign to garner funds for 2017 World Cup in Italy. It was then that he met Balendu, who not only lended him gun for training but also supported him financially for the World Championship. (ANI)