The Asian Games 2018 are bringing a lot of cheer to Indians. However, some unknown faces are grabbing the spotlight as well. One such face among these shining stars is Rahi Sarnobat. The pistol shooter from Kolhapur is finally getting the recognition she deserves. The experienced shooter has captured the imagination of the entire nation by winning the gold in the 25-meter pistol shooting event. Who is this champion? And where was she all these years? We answer all those questions and more as we dig a little deeper and understand the journey of this champion.

rahi sarnobat kreedon
Source: PTI
Full NameRahi Jeevan Sarnobat
Age27 years ( As of 2018)
Height1.51 m
HometownKolhapur
Sport Shooting

Biography

  • Born and brought up in Kolhapur, Rahi Sarnobat moved to Pune to train in 25-meter pistol shooting.
  • After making a mark in the Youth Games and Commonwealth Games, she truly arrived on the international scene in 2013. She became the first Indian pistol shooter to win the gold medal in the World Cup.
  • Unfortunately, her spectacular career took a brief pause due to a freak accident. She fractured her elbow and spent almost two years recuperating.
  • After a test of her perseverance and patience, she finally made it through the dark period. With the new-found support and guidance of Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, she made her comeback.
  • What a comeback it was! Rahi combined her rich experience and Dorjsuren’s world-class training and went to win the gold at the 25-meter pistol event in the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games!

Family

rahi sarnobat with family kreedon

Rahi’s joint family always cheers for her

Rahi was born and brought up in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India. She moved to Pune later for her training. Coming from a joint family, Rahi never had any lack of support. Not only her parents but also her uncles and aunts have pampered her.  They have always supported her in every stage of life. This support helped her to stay strong mentally after her recovery and subsequent recovery.

The family was confident of the gold at the Asiads. In an interview with the Mid-day, her father said,

“I was confident that her preparations and sincere efforts would pay off. I was sure Rahi would win a gold medal at this Asian Games. Now, I expect her to earn an Olympic quota from the next World Championships that will be held in Korea. I personally thank the Olympic Gold Quest for providing Rahi the best physios, doctors, who helped her to overcome the injury and perform better.”

 

Interesting Facts – Rahi Sarnobat

  • She is the sixth Indian shooter to win a gold at the Asian Games.
  • Her inspiration is world rifle champion and fellow Maharashtrian Tejaswini Sawant.

Tejaswini’s success at the previous Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (she won two gold medals) was really the reason I took up the sport. I watched the last one on TV and won the silver in this one, so I couldn’t be happier,” she told India Today after winning two golds in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

  • She did not choose rifle shooting as the equipment is very heavy and the shooting attire is complicated.
  • Rahi is an introvert and prefers to stay at home when not training.
  • She loves to read and always carries a book with when she traveling. She is particularly fond of books on human relations and philosophy.
  • Rahi prefers to relax by watching Bollywood and Marathi movies.
  • Rahi’s memory is like that of an elephant. She can recollect the exact date and other details of all the competitions she has taken part in.
  • She is employed with the Maharashtra Government as deputy collector (revenue).
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister has announced a reward of 50 lakh to her for her golden feat at the Asian Games. She plans to use this money to pay for her coach.rahi sarnobat

 

Early Days

“She was willing to continue even after the camp got over. She had started with the rifle but, after observing her, we diverted her to pistol…turned out to be the best decision’, her former coach Ajit Patil told Times of India.

He has trained her in the summer shooting camp in 2004. She former coach fondly remembers his disciple and always knew she was meant for greater things.

For many years after that camp, she was coached by Anatolli Piddubnyi. Unfortunately, her coach passed away in 2015. Rahi was already going through a low phase due to her grave injury and this incident saddened her further.

Journey

2008 Commonwealth Youth Games

Rahi got her first taste of gold in the 2008 Youth Games.

2010 Commonwealth Games

She proved her mettle yet again with two gold medals in the 2010 CWG. While she won one gold in the singles event, the other one was with Anisa Sayyed in pairs.

2010 World Cup

She reached the finals of the World cup in 2010 after a spectacular performance. However, she came seventh and missed out on a podium finish.

2013 World Cup

Bullseye! Rahi became the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold in the World Cup. She achieved this feat in the 25-meter sports pistol event.

In the semifinals, she got the better of her Chinese opponent Zhang Jingjing.

She defeated Korean Kim Kyeongae of Korea in the final and clinched the yellow metal.

The Pause

Rahi’s spectacular sporting journey came to a halt when she suffered a grave elbow injury. She tripped and fractured her elbow in a freak accident. This was just before going to the Commonwealth Games.

She did not realize how serious the injury was and participated in the Incheon Asiads without complete recovery.

2014 Asian Games

Rahi went on to win a bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014. This was an amazing feat considering her recent injury. However, shooting in spite of recovery turned out to be a big mistake.

Painful Recovery

Rahi’s recovery was slow and painful. She did not want to risk surgery. So, he took two steroid shots and was out of competitive shooting for months. Most of the 2015 and 2016 were spent in hospitals. It was an extremely harrowing time for Rahi. It was the test of her mental strength.

“More than technically, that period was mentally difficult. Being out of the team, I wanted to come back and I thought of nothing else,” she told Economic Times.

Rahi lost out on a number of opportunities because of this injury. However, she knew that she had a lot of game in her. She wasn’t going to give up so easily.

The Comeback

rahi with coach
Rahi with her beloved coach Munkhbayar Dorjsuren

Rahi got through a difficult period of her life with a lot of resilience and strength. She hired Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, an Olympic medallist from Germany, on her own.

It was difficult to afford Dorjsuren’s training, but Rahi somehow managed in from her own pockets. With just a single training session, Rahi realized that Dorjsuren is the perfect coach for her.

She has signed a contract with her till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There is a deep emotional connection between the teacher and her pupil. This bond has immensely helped Rahi.

Asian Games 2018

Hiring Dorjsuren turned out to be a smart move. Rahi won the gold medal in the 25-meter pistol event in the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games. She is the first Indian woman to achieve this feat! She defeated Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon in the finals.

Rahi always gives her best performance in the final round. This technique also helps her to make her opponent complacent.

The Asians turned out to be the perfect comeback for the Maharashtrian girl after an arduous recovery.

After making the entire nation proud, Rahi has already started preparing for the World Championship in South Korea. With her new-found confidence, we are sure Rahi will attain newer heights. She is truly an inspiration, not only as a sportswoman but also as a human.

We get so bogged down by the disappointments in life, that somewhere we lose the will to chase our dreams. Very few of us have the patience or resilience to strike down every obstacle and run behind our dream. Rahi’s journey is inspiring in all aspects. It would have been far easier for her to give up, but she didn’t.  This spirit of never giving up differentiates champions from us ordinary mortals!

Achievements

ISSF World Cup

YearPlaceEventMedal
2013South Korea25-meter pistolGold

 

Commonwealth Games

YearPlaceEventMedal
2010Delhi25-meter pistol pairsGold
2010Delhi25-meter pistolSilver
2014Glasgow25-meter pistolGold

 

Asian Games

YearPlaceEventMedal
2014IncheonWomen’s 25 m pistol teamBronze
2018Jakarta PalembangWomen’s 25 m pistol teamGold

 

 

A passionate foodie, a versatile writer, and now a sports enthusiast, Mamta is always open to exploring new avenues. She has a vast experience in Web Content Writing, Editing, and Social Media Management. A self-confessed coffee and dark chocolate addict, she believes in following her heart and giving her 100% into everything she does.

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