When 16-year-old Udhayveer Sidhu won the gold medal in the 25m Pistol event at the ISSF World Championship in Changwon on Thursday, he was being cheered by twin brother Vijayveer.
While Udhayveer shot a combined score of 587 after the precision and rapid fire stage to edge out Henry Turner Leverett of the United States for the title, Vijayveer finished fourth in the final with a score of 581, missing the bronze by just one point. Both twins were shooting with borrowed pistols from team-mate Arjun Singh Cheema and their personal coach DS Chandel and after the final, were quick to call their mother Rano and talk about their late father Gurpreet Singh Sidhu.
“A medal is precious for our mother whoever brings it home. Vijayveer was leading after the first stage but the rapid fire is always challenging. He missed the medal by just one point but my gold medal is also his and I know nobody would be happier than him seeing me win. Having your younger twin compete with you in an event is the biggest motivation for me and sometimes when he wins the medal, I tell him that I am the elder one and it was my tips which worked for him (laughs). We had a talk after the first round yesterday when Vijayveer was leading and he shared with me how he tackled the conditions. That has been the way for us all these years and this gold medal is the biggest gift for my family especially my late father,” shared Udhayveer.
Natives of Mansa in Punjab, the twins started shooting in 2010 on the instance of their father, who was posted as Assistant Education Officer. Their father got the twins a single 10m pistol worth Rs 1,30,000 to train in 2013, and they would train in turns. The family decided to shift to Chandigarh in 2015 to provide better training to the brothers before their father died after a sudden illness in August last year.
Resuming training after their father’s death, Udhayveer claimed the gold in 10m pistol in the junior civilian category at last year’s national shooting championships in Kerala, apart from winning the silver in the youth men category. Earlier this year, he won the 25m pistol bronze at the Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany, and the twins, along with Raj Kanwar Singh, claimed the Indian team’s historic gold medal in the event with a world record score of 1747.
“Our father was always interested in sports and when he saw some shooters training in Mansa, he got us a borrowed pistol. Both of us would train with it before we got our own pistols in 2013. Training in Suhl was also a big step in our careers as we met some of the top junior shooters in the world and after training sessions, we would discuss techniques. Training under coach Jaspal Rana was something we cherish and sometimes, our coaches mistake one of us for the other. Such incidents also lighten things for us in a sport which is heavily depended on mental strength,” Udhayveer said.
Chandel who trains the duo in Chandigarh, believes their strength is their focus. “They have the ability to adapt their game. They train their shot sequence together and often discuss it between them. And often, they forget their scores and just shoot. During training sessions, they would shoot more than 30 shots without having a look,” he said. At home, mother Rano is eagerly waiting for the ‘world champions’ “For me, both are world champions. When Vijayveer was leading after the first round, Udhayveer was placed second and we knew that they will return with a medal. Even though Vijayveer lost, this performance at the world stage will be a big moment in their career, which would have made their father proud,” she said.