Olympics the target for Chauhan

Driven by ambition to become first Indian World champion

Looking fitter than ever, Rajat Chauhan is driven by his ambition to become the first World champion archer from the country.

Four years ago, Chauhan’s dream was shattered when he lost to local favourite Stephan Hansen in the compound men’s individual final in Copenhagen.

This time he is determined to bag the gold at s-Hertogenbosch in June. “I want to be known as a World champion,” Chauhan told The Hindu after taking the National title at the Barabati Stadium here.

His hunger for success and recognition had compelled Chauhan to switch to recurve.

“When I went to receive the Arjuna award (in 2016), I saw athletes from Olympic disciplines getting more attention. The charm of competing in an Olympic discipline is different. For that I switched to recurve and participated in the Nationals in 2017.”

Shifting from a mechanised compound bow to a manual recurve bow was never easy. “Had I got the job of Deputy Superintendent of Police (as announced by the previous Rajasthan Government), I would not have returned to compound and instead tried to hone my skills in recurve to compete in the 2020 Olympics,” said Chauhan, who sports a tattoo of five Olympic rings on his right elbow.

“A job would have given me the resources to invest in my training. I know I can do it even now. Never know, if I get a good job, I can go back to recurve and try for 2024.”

Knowing Chauhan’s strength, former India coach Jiwanjot Singh convinced the big match athlete to return to compound before last year’s Asian Games.

Chauhan did, and helped India take team silver in Jakarta. Shedding flab from his body as well as his bow, the 24-year-old is on a quest for excellence.

“Along with coach Dhaneshwar Maida, I am working with Subir Debnath — who helps me in bio-mechanics and mental training. I have never been to a gym. Now I am doing a lot of exercises and have lost seven kg in three months.

“After getting fitter I reduced my bow’s weight by 200-250gm. Now I shoot 700-plus scores consistently. Mental training helps overcome indecision,” Chauhan signed off.

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