Yuvika Tomar, a pistol shooter, isn’t afraid to admit that when she first started out, she didn’t have big goals or a lot of passion for the sport. The 15-year-main old’s goals at the time were to win a national medal and get a job in government.
For Yuvika, who hails from the shooting-heavy Johri village in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, choosing shooting over other sports was a no-brainer. She only had to walk 10 minutes to the closest range, where she could get inspiration from some famous visitors. Saurabh Chaudhary, a gold medalist at the world championships, was one of them.
But once the medals started pouring in, Yuvika knew she was destined for the top division. The 21-year-most old’s recent medal was a gold won on Sunday at the National Games in Gujarat in the 10m air pistol competition.
“To be completely honest, I had no goals. But after that, I made good progress and started training seriously,” she said after winning a competition that featured celebrities like Heena Sidhu and Manu Bhaker.
While mingling with the best in the nation, Yuvika did not exhibit any signs of anxiety. She only appeared a little bewildered once during her event. I was looking for my friend because I forgot to get my screwdriver, she explained.
Yuvika has emerged as one of pistol shooting’s brightest prospects, and everyone will be watching her as she competes at the ISSF World Championship in Cairo later this month. She prefers to let her performances do the talking because she is a woman of few words.
At the Asian Shooting Championship in Doha in 2019, Yuvika was a member of the women’s team that set a junior world record score (1721-47x). She doesn’t let pressure on or off the range get to her. But four years ago, she had to stop playing the sport for almost six months due to an unfortunate circumstance.
“My father suddenly became paralysed. He had no prior illnesses or issues, but it still took place. I took a break because I had a lot of work to do at home and in the fields and I was incredibly heartbroken,” she said.
However, her father, who had borrowed money to purchase her daughter’s first pistol, wasn’t going to allow her to give up her sport so easily. He gave me a lot of motivation to start training again. My brother now works in the fields,” Yuvika said.
She dislikes setting long-term goals, so when asked what she expected from the upcoming Worlds, she responded simply, “I’ll just try to do well.”
In the nation, particularly in Gujarat, the Navratri celebrations are in full swing. A predetermined playlist is typically played during shooting competitions, but the National Games organisers thought adding a dhol player to the mix would liven things up a bit.
And judging by the audience’s participation, they weren’t exactly right. Rahul, a dhol player, had never seen a shooting range before this past Sunday. “Shooting for me meant film shooting. I wasn’t expecting to play in a sporting event when I was told I had to. However, after watching the sport all day, I have gained some insight into how it operates,” he claims.
The world governing body states that “music should be played during medal matches” because music is an essential component of shooting.
Milan Technical official James was surprised to see a dhol player at the event. The majority of the music played at competitions is recorded. We have live music on rare occasions,” James said.
James was given the unique responsibility of directing the dhol player during the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions shooting competition. All I had to do was make sure he stopped during announcements and intermissions and started again when the competitions began. Additionally, I made sure he didn’t overplay or play too loudly,” adds James.