Going for bull's eye: Tejaswini Sawant

Source :SIFY
Author :SIFY
Last Updated: Fri, Jul 16th, 2021, 01:15:05hrs
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Tejaswini Sawant

Born to a Navy Officer and a housewife, Tejaswini Sawant hails from Kolhapur, Maharashtra. Her father passed away in 2010. Her mother has been a key driving force in her life. She is the eldest of three siblings and has two sisters. They were brought up in an atmosphere that promoted gender equality.

How did her journey begin?
Sawant was inclined towards sports in her academic life. She was good at basketball and shooting. She participated in shooting events and won several awards during her college years. The turning point came when she was rejected for an event. She was upset that despite being felicitated with the title and award in the Best Shooter category, she was not allowed to participate in the next competition barely a few months later. Someone else had been chosen for the event instead. She was so upset that she wanted to quit shooting. But Sawant's mother encouraged her and reminded her that everything happens for a good reason.

Her first coach
Sawant gives due credit to Jaisingh Kusale, a former vice-president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), as her first coach. He would lend her his shooting kit for practice sessions. Back in 2001, she practiced in Dudhali, Maharashtra, where there were little to no facilities for shooters. Unfortunately, Kusale later passed away and she was left without any facilities. However, before his passing away, Kusale had a chat with Sawant's parents and reiterated that her talent was nothing short of Olympic material and that they should give her the best that they could provide.

Tears and perseverance
After her coach passed away, Sawant almost gave up, but her mother continued to be the driving force at a time when funds were running low and both her sisters had begun their careers as professionals in different fields, while Sawant had yet to establish herself among the top shooters of the nation. Help poured in from different quarters and, sometimes, at the last minute. Her mother reminded her that one day, she would be giving back to society what she was receiving now. Thereafter, there was no looking back. 

Going for bull's eye
Sawant is a trailblazer in the true sense of the word. A quick glance at her track record: 

  • Won gold at the South Asian Sports Federation Games in 2004
  • Won two gold medals at Commonwealth Games (Melbourne) in 2006 in the 10m air rifle and 10m air rifle pairs categories
  • Won a bronze medal in 50m rifle 3 positions category at the 2009 ISSF World Cup in Munich (Germany)
  • Created history at the 2010 ISSF World Championships in Munich, when she became the first Indian woman shooter to clinch a gold medal in the 50m rifle prone category
  • Won a silver and two bronze medals in 2010 Commonwealth Games (New Delhi) in 50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 position and 50m rifle prone (pairs) categories
  • Bagged the Arjuna Award in 2011
  • Won a silver medal in the 50m rifle prone event and a gold medal in the 50m rifle 3 position event at 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in Queensland (Australia)

Passion to perform
Age is just a number for Sawant, who is the oldest and most experienced woman shooter in the Indian contingent at Tokyo Olympics. She will be competing in the women's 50m rifle 3 position event at Tokyo 2020. Kuheli Gangulee is her current coach, whom she lauds as part of her support system.

With her hard work, consistent performance and rich experience, a podium finish at the Olympics is no longer a distant dream for Sawant. Sify wishes Sawant all the best. #Cheer4India

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