Tracking a ‘shooting star’
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Tejaswini Muley talks about her long-term plans and her dream of playing the 2016 Olympics
Tejaswini Muley's shooting career began in 1984, eight years before she was born, when television had become an integral part of small-town Indian households, and Tejaswini's father Manoj Muley, a resident of Phulambri in Aurangabad district made it a point not to miss even a day of the Los Angeles Olympics.
"I would stay up all night, and watch all the events," he recalls. "That's how I got hooked to shooting."
Muley remained a devoted spectator of the sport, and in due course a fan of pistol shooter Jaspal Rana. He decided to give his daughter a first-hand taste of the game and took her to the Aurangabad District Rifle Association in 2005, when she was 13.
"I attended an eight-day basic course there," says Tejaswini. "At the end of the course, they held a match in which I won silver. That is when I decided to pursue it seriously."
Today, Tejaswini is one of India's most promising young shooters. Last month, she returned from the International Junior Shooting Competition in Suhl, Germany, with two medals — silver in the 50m prone and bronze in the 50m 3-position. Meanwhile, in air rifle, she shot a remarkable 399 out of 400 in the qualifying round - one shot off the world record.
"I messed up in the finals, and came fourth," says Tejaswini. "After getting 399 in qualifying, I put too much pressure on myself. I only had a 15-minute gap before the final, so I wasn't mentally prepared." Regardless, having returned with two medals, Suhl was a confidence booster for Tejaswini.
"I will turn 20 in November, so this was my last junior competition. I went there telling myself that I had to win a medal," she says. "And even the conditions there were perfect. Normally, it gets very cold there, but this time it was nice and pleasant."
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