By Ajai Masand
New Delhi, July 9 | An athlete’s commitment to his sport can be gauged by the hunger and the hard work he is willing to put in, in order to achieve his goal. And, 18-year-old 10m air rifle marksman, Divyansh Singh Panwar, has shown it in ample measure in the last two years.
At just 17 years of age, he became the world’s top-ranked rifle shooter on the back of a string of medal-winning performances in the world cups in 2019. While until 2018, he was dominating the junior scene, the tall youngster wasted little time in making a mark at the senior level with three mixed team and an individual gold and silver during the 2019 world cups.
Then, when things became extremely difficult for training during the Covid-enforced lockdown, the Japiur boy — who all along stayed in a rented apartment in Surajkund, Faridabad away from his family due to its proximity to the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Ranges — approached his coach, Deepak Dubey, for help.
“Divyansh was at the lowest ebb in his competitive career and I had to do something to get him back to full training,” recalled Dubey.
The coach turned his apartment, which was close to Panwar’s house, into an international-level range for his ward, and after spending 14 full days without practice, Panwar doubled down to begin his training, practicing 10-12 hours each day under the watchful eyes of Dubey, himself a former national-level shooter.
The supply of lead pellets, which are imported from Italy and Germany, was not a problem. Panwar used the few tins judiciously and the sports ministry’s Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) scheme took care of his expenses and fresh pellet stocks.
Son of a senior nursing staff at the Sawai Man Singh Medical College in Jaipur, Panwar was the fourth marksman from the country to clinch the Olympic quota after rifle shooters Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela, and pistol sensation Saurabh Chaudhary, when he won silver at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Beijing.
He has never looked back since.