The shooting fraternity in India has been left in a state of shock with the passing of former India shooter and coach Pournima Zanane in Pune on Saturday. A livewire on and off the shooting range, Zanane had been battling cancer for the past two years. She was only 41.
A prolific markswoman, Zanane won several medals in rifle events at the international stage. Her crowning glory on a big platform was partnering Anjali Bhagwat to claim the team gold in 10m air rifle at the 2005 Commonwealth Shooting Championship in Melbourne. Bhagwat (394) and Zanane (391) had aggregated 785/800 to wrest the top honours for India ahead of Singapore and England.
In 2004, Zanane had teamed up with Suma Shirur and Deepali Deshpande to bag the team silver at the Asian Shooting Championship in Kuala Lumpur with a cumulative score of 1188/1200 behind Korea (1189). India had pipped China (1188) to silver on the last card basis.
Pounima had taken to coaching a few years back and was an ISSF ‘B’ coach and lecturer at the prestigious ISSF Academy, conducting courses in various parts of the world. While many of her wards won medals at national and international events, her teaching skills were sought after abroad as well with the Sri Lankan shooting federation seeking her expertise in 2018.
Speaking exclusively to indianshooting.com, Anjali Bhagwat said, “Very sad and unfortunate news for the shooting fraternity. She had her own style of living, a confident and bindaas personality. I remember sharing the podium with her at the 2005 Commonwealth Championships. She was training good shooters at the Balewadi stadium (in Pune). But definitely will remember her as a great fighter. When she recovered first from this ailment maybe a year back, she came back to the range with the same style, confidence and full of smile. Till the end she fought so bravely. She will always remain an inspiration for coming generations. May her soul rest in peace, will miss you my friend.”
Social media was abuzz with tributes pouring from contemporaries and those who knew and admired her as a qualified teacher.
Olympian Avneet Sidhu remembered Zanane as “such a strong woman…hard working, great willpower and a fighter to the core. Pournima Di….you will always be remembered fondly as someone who had great courage. May God bless the departed soul and give strength to the family to bear this great loss.”
Another Olympian Deepali Deshpande struggled to cope with the loss. “This is shocking and very, very sad. You will always be remembered as a fighter. Rest in peace”.