The 26-year-old from Chandigarh was among the first two Indians to have secured quota places for the Tokyo Olympics, now deferred by a year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Elated at her name being recommended for the prestigious award, Anjum told TOI, “My family and I feel proud and happy. I believe whoever deserves it the most should be awarded this title. It came as a surprise.”
The lockdown could be boring for many athletes who are confined to their homes and camps during the period without any outdoor training, but Anjum is utilizing the time with some online courses on sports psychology.
“No lockdown is not gloomy for me. I am utilising the time to the best level I can,” she said.
Elaborating on her routine during the period, Anjum says, “I am doing quite a lot of physical training , dry training for shooting, learning new stuff like dance cooking and doing online courses (WADA , Sports psychology, exercise physiology, nutrition) playing games and spending time with family.”
Anjum, who started shooting in 2008, has been delivering top performances in the last couple of years. The year 2018 saw her win silver in the women’s 50m rifle 3-Positions event at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico. She followed that up with silver in the same category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games that year.
The Chandigarh girl, along with compatriot Apurvi Chandela, were the first from the country to win a quota place for the Tokyo Games. The duo sealed the maximum quotas available for India in the event at the 2018 World Championships. While Anjum was a surprise silver medallist at the Worlds in Changwon, South Korea, the seasoned air rifle shooter, Apurvi, too ensured that she sealed a quota place with her fourth-place finish in the 10m air rifle final.
While a lot has been written about the 50m rifle 3 positions being her pet event, Anjum, however said she gives equal weightage to both the events, and her performances in the 10m air rifle event reflects her seriousness to the discipline.
“I have always loved three positions because of the challenge it throws. So I used to enjoy it, but since 2018, I have started focusing on my 10m air rifle and as a result all my individual medals are in the air right now.”
“May be a couple of years back, I wasn’t on top of my game in 10m air, but things have changed since then and the expectations have gone up with people comparing my performances in both the events. It’s just that three positions need much more training if you compare it with a 10m air rifle,” she said.
Besides Anjum, the NRAI has recommended Jaspal Rana for the Dronacharya Award for the second year in a row. The association also named champion pistol shooters Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Manu Bhaker and promising rifle shooter Elavenil Valarivan for the prestigious Arjuna Award.