Aiming high at Beijing

Skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan has a few things on his mind these days. Besides looking out for sponsors who will fund his training leading up to the 2012 London Olympics...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 14, 2010 12:23:27 am

Skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan is optimistic of his chances at the World Cup

Skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan has a few things on his mind these days. Besides looking out for sponsors who will fund his training leading up to the 2012 London Olympics,he has been busy staving off family pressure to get married. But the quest for Olympic success means he has managed to ensure his focus is only on shooting,at least for the time being.

“I’ve told my family not to even mention marriage till London. After that,I am willing to do what ever they want,but this is not the right time to think about all that,” says the Noida-based shooter.

Khan has approached several companies in an effort to raise Rs 60 lakh,the amount he needs to train abroad in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

“This is the minimum amount I need. Professional coaches bill you by the hour these days. I have approached several corporate houses,let’s see how it goes,” he told Sportline a day before his scheduled departure for Beijing,where he will compete in the Combine World Cup of all shooting events that gets underway from Thursday. “I have also spoken to the National Rifle Association of India officials and they are expecting to raise money through sponsors as well.”

At Beijing,Khan and Arozepal Sandhu will be the only representatives from India in the skeet events,since the third shooter — PP Singh — pulled out at the last minute.

Khan is also looking forward to training under Italian shooter Andrea Benelli,who won the skeet gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. “Our skeet coach (Shan Zhang) hasn’t been of any help to me. I will be training with Andrea during my European stay.”

If all goes well,Khan has plans to stay in Europe through the summer,where he will train for the Doha 2012 event,the final event where he can hope to secure a quota berth for Olympics.

“It’s really hard to shoot during summers here. I am hoping for an extended stay in Europe this time round. I am also looking forward to the Doha meet to book my spot. But before that,I need to concentrate on shooting scores of 24 consistently. Right now,I am in the 23 bracket,which is also good,but I want to ensure that nothing goes wrong this time for me.”

Khan isn’t relying on the support of the shooting federation or sports ministry to achieve his goals. “Winning a medal is my dream. Ministry and the federation have no clues as to what is needed to be a champion sportsperson. I have to do everything on my own. Abhinav Bindra won an Olympic gold because he had this undying ambition to win it,” he says.

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