Spiritual guru Deepak, wrestler's son Lakshay shoot silver at Asian Games
Palembang: Deepak Kumar and Lakshay Sheoran, shooters with contrasting career paths, on Monday made major breakthroughs by winning a silver in the men's 10m air rifle and men's trap respectively at the Asian Games here.
The 33-year-old Deepak did not mind the long wait for a major medal, 14 years after he picked up the sport.
Lakshay, on the other hand, picked up the gun only four years ago as a teenager and at 20, is now a silver medallist at Asiad, equalling the feat achieved by former world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu at the 2006 Doha edition.
Veteran Sandhu also happened to be in the trap field on Monday and was very much in the medal hunt until he missed five targets towards the end to finish fourth. With his father Somvir being a former national champion wrestler, it was no surprise that Lakshay rushed to touch Sandhu's feet right after the competition was over.
The trap final was won by Chinese Taipei's Kunpi Yang, who shot a sensational 48 to equal the world record. Lakshay shot 43 while South Korean Daemyeong Ahn took the bronze with 30.
"Since childhood I liked guns and rifles. I used to try it with my father. But when I decided to pursue shooting seriously, he was not very sure about it. I am sure he is proud of me now," said the shooter from Jeend in Haryana.
Shotgun coach Mansher Singh said Lakshay was on the junior programme but was fast-tracked into the senior team. But fearing he would feel the pressure in a big event, Mansher kept him away from the crowd at the Games Village and Lakshay was only confined to his room. In the end, it all worked well for the second year college student. Another silver came India's way and that was in the morning session with Deepak producing a late surge to steal a silver in the 10m rifle event. It was the biggest result of his career but the 30-year-old, having spent the better part of his life at Gurukul in Dehradun, kept his emotions in check.
China's defending champion Yang Haoran was a cut above the rest, winning the gold with an aggregate of 249.1. Deepak, who was not in the race for a medal until the 18th shot when he shot a 10.9, scored 247.7, pushing Taipei's Lu Shaochuan to third with 226.8 in the 24-shot final.
Ravi Kumar, who had won a mixed team bronze alongside Apurvi Chandela on Sunday, was unlucky to miss out on a medal and finished fourth. Deepak shot a perfect 10.9 to dislodge his Air Force mate before producing a 10.8 to pip the Taipei shooter.
Giving a peek into his state of mind while he was trailing for major part of the finals, Deepak said he just thought about what his coach Manoj Kumar would say.
"I was trailing also in the qualification. I just thought about his words. He often says 'you have the potential and you know your limits'. Starting was not good, the middle was worse. So I just tried to stay calm," the 30-year-old PTI.
Asked how he felt about beating his friend and Air Force roommate Ravi, he was philosophical: "if we think about a win or loss with our friends, there is little point of our existence. We are close friends and spend a lot of time together. Nothing changes after today."
Deepak broke into the Indian team only last year, having picked up shooting back in 2004. However, Deepak sees this medal only as the beginning.
"Everyone keeps thinking about what they will get. I believe in spreading whatever I have learnt from my days in Gurukul. You eventually get your due. There is not point feeling sad about anything. Life is short," said the spiritual shooter.
"True sportsman is someone who does not conserve his knowledge, he is one who shares it with all. Just like teacher."
Deepak's parents sent him to Gurukul Academeny in Dehradun for his schooling. He is a Sanskrit expert, a Yogi and tries to spread all values he has learnt at Gurukul.
"I am what I am because of Gurukul. It has taught me the true values of life. My parents sent me away from Delhi because they did not want me to study in a city environment," he added.
However, there was disappointment for Apurvi Chandela in the women's 10m rifle final, finishing fifth while talented teenager Elavenil Valarivan failed to qualify for the finals.
Seema Tomar finished last in the six-women trap final and Shreyasi Singh failed to qualify after ending seventh in the qualification.