GUWAHATI, Oct 2 - After shooting gold at the recently concluded ISSF World Championships in Changwon, Hriday Hazarika�s next target remains a berth in the Indian shooting contingent for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, the young shooter speaks about his journey so far as well as his next targets.
Regarding his immediate action plan, the 16-year-old said: �After winning the gold at the World Championships in South Korea, I am now at the third place in senior national rankings and I am concentrating on my game to remain in the top three so that I can play in the senior category.
�There are few national and international competitions prior to the World Cup to be held in New Delhi in February, 2019, where there are four Olympic quota places at stake. So it is important to remain in the top three in senior rankings to play Olympic quota place matches in 2019.�
The 16-year-old seems to be a household name now, however, the journey wasn�t an easy one for him. Despite the fact that Assam hasn�t produced too many shooters who had went on to make it big at the national scene, Hriday�s dedication and the support of his parents seem to be the reason behind his success story today.
What inspired him to take up the sport, Hriday recalls by saying: �Right from my childhood days I would like to play with toy guns. My father was the NCC officer at his college and I used to go there on Sundays for the NCC parade. Some of the Physical Instructors introduced me with a big dummy rifle and NCC cadets of the college offered me a home-made wooden rifle. I used to spend a lot of time with that rifle and played like an Army soldier.
�I enjoyed watching the movie Border and that generated interest and I used to dream of becoming an Army officer. Finally my father introduced me to shooting in 2013 at Sankardev College in Lakhimpur district where I trained in 10 metre air rifle.�
Asked whether the gold at Changwon remains his biggest achievement, Hriday said: �Obviously winning gold in ISSF World Championship is a game changer for me. This is my second gold in an international tournament. Before that, I won gold at the Junior ISSF World Cup 2018 in Germany. So it makes me believe that I can play at any level of competition.�
Hriday is currently based in New Delhi and has been practising at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
�I shifted to New Delhi and I practice at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range regularly because of three reasons. Firstly, my coach Deepak Kr Dubey is there and secondly, most of the competitions are held here and finally I have the chance to practice with all the senior international players. It helps me to learn a lot from them.�
Regarding the infrastructure in Assam, the young shooter believes upgradation is the need of the hour.
�I have played in Delhi, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Iran and all are world class facilities. The facilities for shooting sports available in Assam is also at par standard as the National Games and SAG were held. Now it requires upgradation. It is an expensive game so the government should also provide equipments like pistol and rifle to the shooting association which will help in promotion of the game. Assam has a bright future in this sport. There are many talented shooters in Assam.�
Shooting remains a demanding sport when it comes to the mental and physical aspect of a shooter and to keep up with it one requires a tight regime to be followed.
�Shooting requires lot of mental and physical patience. A rifle shooter has to bear an additional weight of 5.5 kg rifle and another 5-6 kg of jacket and trouser. So one has to be physically fit to manage such weight during matches. A player has to be focused on target also.
�I do regular physical training which includes exercises, yoga, meditation in the morning and during day time I practice with my rifle for around four to five hours daily.�
Regarding the role of his parents and well wishers, the teenaged shooter said: �I want to keep shooting as my full time career like other professional players. My parents are actually shaping my shooting career. It is my father who took me to the shooting range. He manages everything including my rifle, equipments, travel plan, staying at competition site and others. My mother is always with me and has been travelling with me for the last three to four years. She even took VRS from her job.
�I am always thankful to my coach Deepak Kumar Dubey, Assam Rifle and Shooting Association, Sankardev College, the Chief Minister of Assam, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Olympic Gold Quest for extending support to me.�