Avid reader Rahi guns down Asiad pistol gold

Avid reader Rahi guns down Asiad pistol gold

Shooter Rahi Sarnobat with her gold medal at Palembang, Indonesia on Wednesday.PTI

Reading and shooting don’t appear to be coherent passions to pursue but that’s exactly what Rahi Sarnobat, who became the first Indian female shooter to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, does. 

The Pune-based girl held her nerve in a gripping 25m air pistol final which was decided by two shoot-offs that gave India their second gold in shooting after the 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary had fetched top honours in the 10m air pistol finals on Tuesday.

The situation was tense but perhaps it’s her reading of it that helped her stay calm and pull off a famous win here on Wednesday. Incidentally, Rahi is currently reading Kannada writer S L Bhyrappa’s Marathi version of one of his most acclaimed novels Mandra.

“Shooting is life for me.” What does she do in her free time? “Shooting only,” she said with a hearty laugh. And when she is not shooting, she is reading.

“I have got four books kept in my room at the Games Village. I am currently reading S L Bhyrappa. He is a Kannada writer but I am reading the Marathi translated version. It is about human relations and philosophy. I have three days free so I am going to back to my room and finish it,” said Rahi.

For the record, the 27-year-old Deputy Collector from Kolhapur pipped Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon in a heart-stopping contest after both were tied at 34 points following 10 series of five shots each, taking it to a shoot-off.

Rahi is the sixth Indian to shoot a gold at the Games, joining Chaudhary, Jaspal Rana, Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi. Her 34 in the finals also ended up as a joint Games Record.

The talented Manu Bhaker, however, cracked under pressure to finish sixth in the finals.

Rahi, who had become India’s first pistol shooter to win a World Cup gold back in 2013, had not won a major medal since the Commonwealth Games gold in 2014. An elbow injury which she picked up even before Glasgow set her back for the next two years.