Indian pistol shooter Vijay Kumar, Olympic silver medalist from London 2012, said he has been practicing for the 2022 National Games for more than six months and is aiming to recreate his outstanding results from the Kerala edition.
The ace shooter from Himachal Pradesh, currently on a comeback trail, headlined the pistol events at the National Games 2015 with five gold medals and a bronze.
"It was special to beat so many of the country's best shooters to win five gold in the 2015 Kerala Games. Yes, it has been among my best efforts at home," Vijay Kumar said.
However, Vijay Kumar believes the shooting competition at the National Games 2022, currently being held in Gujarat, will be a tough test and his past performances would count for very little.
"That performance at National Games 2015 is a thing of the past," Vijay Kumar, who returned to range after a five-year sabbatical last year, stated.
The Olympic medallist last competed in a major shooting tournament back in 2016 before shifting his focus entirely to his career with Himachal Pradesh Police. He underwent intense academic, field and border training during his time away from the sport.
Vijay Kumar conceded that muscle memory built over many years as a sport shooter was lost when he made the comeback.
"Technique goes for a toss. If one doesn't train and compete for three or four years, one forgets the basics, the ABCD of sport. When you return to the highest level, you realise you have all but forgotten how to play," Vijay Kumar noted.
Vijay Kumar, who has been competing at national-level championships and trials since November 2021, also stated that the National Games 2022 may be his toughest challenge yet since making a comeback.
"The competition at the National Games will be intense since the best 16 shooters in each event will be there. I believe I can push myself more and can even excel at the Olympic level once again. That single goal has fuelled my motivation."
Vijay Kumar represented Services, who are the defending champions, in the last three National Games but will be shooting for his home state Himachal Pradesh in the 2022 edition.
"There is no difference in how I view the competition, though I am representing my State now. I will, as always, try to give my best," said Vijay Kumar, who serves as the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Himachal.
The shooting competitions at the National Games 2022 will be held in Ahmedabad from September 30. Vijay Kumar will also look to use the competition to prepare for the ISSF World Championships rifle/pistol to be held in Cairo next month. (ANI)