Blurred vision and an empty stomach. Those were the ingredients of success for Divya TS of Karnataka at the recent National Selection Trials for the Indian shooting team in Bhopal.
When Divya, a promising pistol shooter, left Bengaluru for the competition venue, it was supposed to be like any other trip aimed at stepping up her performance. Here was a chance to make the team for the upcoming ISSF World Cup at Rio de Janeiro next month, and Divya was upbeat. Especially, as the buildup to the trials under renowned coach Manjunath Patagar in Bengaluru, had gone off well.
Work in Bhopal started on March 11 with training for 25m Pistol, which went on till the 16th. Divya went into the short break hopeful of the future. But fate had other plans. While out for breakfast on March 19, Divya was knocked down by a bike. She got up alright but with a bloodied face. She had suffered head injuries in three places, which required 12 stitches in all.
After missing training that day, Divya, despite her blurred vision after the accident, was clear about one thing. “I cannot give up at this stage,” she told indianshooting.com in an exclusive interview. She did not inform her family as it would have caused an upheaval and affected her focus. With coach Patagar not by her side, Divya took control after she noticed discharge from an ear to add to the bouts of blurred vision.
What this meant was with her first trial approaching on March 21, Divya began mental preparations while fighting fear all through. She visited a private range to check if she could actually spot the target clearly and shoot. “I was determined,” she said, the grit coming through clearly in each sentence she uttered. Divya turned up for the trial and given her condition, excelled too. Though she missed the final by a few points after shooting 566, Divya fulfilled the promise an athlete made to herself.
More stress was in store as a day before the second trial on March 23, Divya experienced heavy nausea. She got little sleep at night, stayed hungry for 18 hours, and with it was the constant fear, “what if I can’t finish the competition”. Despite coping with negative thoughts, she stayed firm.
Perseverance paid off, Divya shot 574 and made the final. But for her condition, she could have won but settled for silver in the tie-break. It had been a long day with the rapid fire trials slated earlier in the day. There are no excuses though for the silver.
Divya’s place in the Indian team is certain but the same cannot be said about her well-being as the bouts of blurred vision keep returning. Doctors have assured her, and the advice is to “take a break, go out and explore yourself”.
Divya is ready for what lies ahead. As a former basketball player, the shooter knows a thing or two about coping with injuries and pain.
By Robin Bose