As she paused before taking her final shot in the final of the women’s 10m air rifle event at the ISSF International Junior competition in Suhl,Germany,last week,Shriyanka Sadangi knew that she was up against it. In fourth place at that point,she had reduced her chances further by shooting a lowly 9.8 in her penultimate shot. “At that point I decided that there wasn’t really much to worry about. I told myself to stop worrying about what all had happened until that point and instead concentrate on the shot I was about to take,” she says.
The 17-year-old would fire a near-perfect 10.8 to take the gold,her maiden individual gold at an international shooting competition. Thanks to her effort she would also take the silver in the team event. Despite being the daughter of a Ranji Trophy player – Col Sitanshu Sadangi – sports was never on Shriyanka’s mind early on. Shooting too came about by accident when at school some six years ago,she attended a summer camp when the fundamentals of airgun shooting had been taught.
Her interest in the sport picked up,she next got a chance to train in the Army’s Mission Olympics: Catch Them Young scheme. When she first started shooting,Shriyanka had a choice to make. Abhinav Bindra hadn’t yet won his Olympic gold and the big shooting hero was double trap’s Col Rajyavardhan Rathore. Shriyanka ultimately went with practicality. “There aren’t that many coaches or shooting ranges for double trap in India. Shotguns look very interesting but personally I find the rifles more challenging. It is a very personalised sport. You can’t blame the weather or the conditions after your performance. It’s all about you and your gun and how you perform on that particular day,” she says. “Of course Col Rathore is still my idol,” she adds in apology.
Shriyanka proved to be a natural,and won her first medal a bronze in the team event of the national juniors the very next year. And after winning medals in five international events last year it’s clear that she has progressed a long way from the time she used a basic gun the kind you shoot balloons with at a fair.
Shriyanka now uses a Walther 300XD which she bought in 2010. “It is the same gun brand that Gagan Narang uses.
“After the Army scheme wound up in 2009,I didn’t have a coach for some time. Although I did well in my first nationals without a coach and won a silver but I didn’t do so well in my next tournament. Luckily Lakshya sponsored me to train at Gagan Narang’s Gun for Glory Shooting Academy in Pune,” says Shriyanka who trains under coach Iuri Mikhalkin.
Having performed at the junior level,Shriyanka is now keen to translate the results at the senior level. While she has competed in two senior ISSF World Shooting Championships – in Milan 2011 and Munich 2010- the results haven’t come through. “I am long way off from the top at the senior level,” she explains. At the junior level I won my gold with a score of 398. When I played at the senior level I remember were several people tied at 399 and even 400. To come up with performances at the senior level I will have to learn more and also improve my level of consistency,” she says.