By Abhishek Hore
New Delhi, July 22: Running out of ideas and patience after shooting in his basement, bedroom, and hall, the seasoned Sanjeev Rajput is "relieved" to be finally training outdoors, albeit in an empty 50m range, in his quest for Olympic glory.
Rajput was left to do simulation shooting for weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a nationwide lockdown, including immediate suspension of all sporting activities, in March.
His 50m rifle event doesn't allow him the liberty to train indoors unlike the ones who participate in the 10m competitions.
"As you know it's not possible in 50m, I am happy to be training at the Karni Singh Range as I missed out on a lot of time due to the pandemic," Rajput told on Wednesday.
"Only I am training in the 50m range at the moment," the 39-year-old, who lives in nearby Faridabad, added.
The foreign coach for rifle shooters, Oleg Mikhailov, has also been visiting the range since it was thrown open for training by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) about a fortnight back.
The unprecedented global health crisis has affected almost every sphere of life and Rajput knows the importance of remaining cautious under the circumstances, strictly following the SOPs drawn by the SAI.
"There are hardly any people inside the range at this point in time and I carry my sanitizers and masks along with me whenever I am visiting the range.
"I am sanitizing myself frequently and the authorities are doing the same with the range. So, as such, I am not too worried about contracting the virus."
Rifle shooters Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar are practicing in the 10m hall and Rajput said coach Oleg is shuttling between the two ranges, religiously helping the Tokyo Olympics-bound shooters with his inputs.
There are a couple of shooters in the shotgun and two more in pistol using the Karni Singh Range at the moment, according to Rajput.
"Social distancing is strictly maintained and it is just like saying hi and hello whenever we happen to meet inside the range."
World Cup gold medallist Rajput secured his Tokyo quota in Rio de Janeiro last year when he gunned down the silver in the men's 50m rifle 3 positions event.
Since the 2008 Games, he has secured an Olympic quota four times on the trot but competed in it twice.
He said he is looking forward to the National Rifle Association of India's (NRAI) camp for the Olympics core group, which is scheduled to start in the first week of August and in which attendance has been made compulsory.
Though he lives nearby, Rajput said he will prefer staying with the shooting contingent at the Manav Rachna University campus when it meets for the camp.