An Olympic Trap Shooter, Manavaditya Rathore befriended guns when he was just 12. “Born in a military background, guns always surrounded me. But I never saw them as weapons. To me, a gun was what a cricket bat is to a regular Indian boy.” Son of the Padma Shri Awardee Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, former Olympian and Rifle Shooter, this young champion talks about what it was like to shoot from a gun for the very first time! “I took my father’s gun and I hit the flying target. That’s when my father realized I had a talent in shooting and my journey began. That same year, I participated in the national championship.”
2013 | International Junior World Cup | Silver
2014 | Asian Championship | Gold
2016 | National Championship | Silver
2016 | International Junior Shotgun Cup | Gold
2017 | World Championship | Silver
How did you feel after winning the Gold at Khelo India Youth Games 2019?
This was the first Khelo India Games I have participated and winning the gold against all the competitors was very memorable. There were elite athletes and members of the Indian shooting team who have shot the competition previously so winning against them was a big morale booster for me.
What difficulties you faced during the tournament?
The weather plays a huge role in the tournament. In Pune, the range was quite windy. So, when the targets fly out, they hover into the sky. But you have to keep the focus and you have to connect with the target and shoot it. But these difficulties will be there in every other shooting range. Being a sports person, being an athlete, one has to prepare to shoot in those conditions.
How did you manage your stress level during the competition?
As I went into the final, I had a shaky start and that’s when I had to decide- I had two options: to give up and to give my best and usually when you’ve been training so hard, before the competitions, for the competitions, your conscience doesn’t allow you to give up and that’s what pushes you to excel. Giving up was never an option. Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win.
What is the reason behind your spirit of never giving up?
Meditation helps me overcome all the obstacles and hurdles in my shooting career. I would suggest all the athletes to do it too. Unbeknownst to us, so many sports are about controlling your breath. Focusing on your breath will always give you an athletic advantage and will help calm your nerves in moments of extreme stress. I would go so far as to say that the first step to winning a medal is victory and control over your own breathing pattern.
Who is your support system during your journey?
My mother and my father are my biggest pillars of strength. My father, being a sportsman himself knows the problem an athlete goes through and how to overcome them. I have an unfair advantage: I did not really start shooting from the scratch. I built upon the knowledge and experience of my father. That’s a major asset for me. My mother, being a doctor and travelling with my father all these years, knows the problem an athlete faces. So, she supports me with her experiential advices.
What are your future goals?
Every athlete’s main goal is to win an Olympic Gold and so is mine. But, I also have short term goals. I want to get into the senior team this year, participate in the senior World Cups and compete against the Olympic medalists all over the world so that I can win a quota. Since this year the quota is for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I am working to get the quota and participate in the Olympics.
What message would you like to convey to students across India?
When you are picking up a sport you should not pick something you feel you excel at or you feel that this can be a future job or an earning factor. The main goal should be something that gives you joy because somewhere down the road when problems come in, you tend to lose the aspect of happiness. Only when your main goal of choosing what you’re doing is happiness, then you’ll always excel in your sport because you’ll be enjoying it.