In 2008, when legendary rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra won India’s first Olympic gold medal in shooting, a couple in West Bengal’s Asansol decided to name their son after him.
At 10 years and 291 days old, the same boy has created history by becoming the youngest gold medallist at the Khelo India Youth Games on Sunday.
Here’s all you need to know about the child prodigy Abhinav Shaw.
Abhinav was only six when he picked up the sport. For four years since, he has been vested in it. His father, Rupesh Shaw, was an aspiring shooter, but couldn’t continue it due to the financial burden that the sport brings.
Speaking to Firstpost, Rupesh adds how he would often visit the Asansol Rifle Club, the only shooting range in the area. But the exorbitant membership costs never let him pursue it professionally.
“In 2008, when Abhinav Bindra won the gold, I was very excited. Though my child was not yet born at that point, I decided that if I had a son, I would name him Abhinav. Luckily for me, Abhinav showed a keen interest in shooting from an early age. He was just six when I took him to a school level tournament being held at the Joydeep Karmakar Shooting Academy (JKSA). It was here that he caught the eye of Karmakar who decided to take him under his wings. Despite not having a proper jacket and shoes, Abhinav went on to win the event,’’ Rupesh told the publication.
Being an expensive sport, Rupesh struggled to provide his son with the necessary equipment and gear.
“I have often bought guns from the second-hand market and even borrowed his first pair of shooting shoes from National Cadet Corps.”
The class six student juggles his studies and travels to Karmakar’s Academy in Kolkata for training. The father-son duo travel to the city and stay with their friends for the days when the young boy undergoes training.
“But we are looking at options to permanently shift to Kolkata which will help him to train better without the distractions of travelling,” adds Rupesh, mirroring Joy Karmakar’s thoughts. The coach wants young Abhinav to relocate to Kolkata to cut down on his travelling time from Asansol, so that he can use the time to practice instead.
Rupesh is also an exceptional example of a hands-on dad, who isn’t taking up any permanent jobs because he is investing most of his time in his son’s career. He currently takes science and mathematics tuition classes for school children.
Needless to say, Abhinav has made it all worth his father’s efforts by clinching gold medals.
The class six student’s gold medal in the nationals in 2018 in the mixed event of the 10-metre air rifle alongside Mehuli Ghosh brought him to the limelight. This year, he repeated the win with Ghosh at the Khelo India Youth Games.
He now holds the record as the youngest gold medallist at the event!
Abhinav will soon be participating in the trials with the senior national team in March 2019, alongside some of the best rifle shooters the country has to offer. A good performance could bag him a place in the national team for future tournaments.
The pressure is immense but coach Karmarkar is taking it slow, one day at a time.
“It is a bit surreal as a coach to talk to a 10-year-old on how to compete with some of the best rifle shooters in the country. I do not want to put too much pressure on the youngster at this stage of his career. I would rather want him to enjoy the sport without the burden of expectations and suffering a burnout. He is a rare talent and more matured than kids of his age group. There is a fire in his belly and he is a very quick learner,’’ he told the publication.
According to an India Today report, in 2017, at eight-years-old, Shaw also became the youngest shooter to qualify in the senior nationals. This record is being deemed unbreakable because the age for picking up air rifle has now been set to 12.
The gold medals at the nationals and the Khelo India Youth Games are certainly milestones, but the shooter-coach duo is focused on improving the young gun’s scores.
The 10-year-old who has his eyes set on the goal signs off, saying, “I simply love shooting. I do not feel any pressure nor am I scared of the hard work. I have a dream. I want to win a medal in the Olympics.”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)