Hriday Hazarika shooter of Assam eyeing on Asian Games

Hriday Hazarika shooter of Assam eyeing on Asian Games

GUWAHATI: A wooden pistol made by cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) introduced rifle shooter Hriday Hazarika to the sport at the age of three in the remote village of Dhalpur, the district headquarters of Upper Assam’s Lakhimpur.

It has been an arduous journey of sacrifices and ups and downs, including bouts with dengue and Covid-19, in addition to the injury-plagued 2018 Junior World Champion in 2022, who won silver in the men’s 10m air rifle at the ISSF Shooting World Cup. Before winning the medal. in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was his first medal in the senior circuit, making him a strong favorite to represent the country at the Hangzhou Asian Games later this year.
It was a packed World Cup final, with the likes of Chinese air rifle legend Yang Horan, former world champion and Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Sheng Lihao, Hungarian player Istvan Peni and veteran Austrian Martin Strempfl. Observed among others. But despite such tough competition, Herde proved his worth when he beat Sheng in the top two by the 21st shot to set up a date with eventual gold medalist Zalan Pekler of Hungary, who edged out the Assam shooter for the title scored 252.4 against 251.9.
In a freewheeling chat with Media, Young, who is an ardent fan of India’s first Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, revisited the lowest point of his career during the pandemic, and the comeback that followed. process before they can find themselves back at the national level Camp.

Hriday Hazarika shooter of Assam eyeing on Asian Games
“This is my first major medal in any category in five years. It’s been a tough journey since 2020 (due to Covid) and on top of that a leg injury (fracture). And the nationwide lockdown. “The team’s physios and trainers couldn’t monitor me because of it. But if it wasn’t for my personal coach Nishanta Bordoloi, I wouldn’t be on my feet today. He helped a lot during this phase,” he said.
“And once I started the recovery process, I came down with Covid and later dengue, which made it difficult to make a comeback in 2021-22 because of which I found myself out of the national reckoning. “It took some time to recover from the injury, and then the Covid,” he added.
In 2021, the deadly second phase of the CoVID-19 pandemic once again halted sporting activities that slowly resumed after the first phase. Most of the country’s athletes changed temporary arrangements to continue their training. And in Hriday’s case, his father Dr Sarat Hazarika, a registrar at Madhdev University, built a makeshift range at his native place to ensure his son didn’t miss his target.
“It was an important phase and even though the focus was on recovery and comeback, I tried to incorporate the smallest things (technical) in all the tournaments I participated in and gradually pushed myself to do what I could. has earned everything today. World Cup),” he said.
Try with pistol and switch to rifle shooting
Hriday’s love affair with pistol/rifle started at the age of three when a few NCC cadets under Sr. Hazarika, then a second lieutenant in NCC, made a wooden pistol for the little one.
What further piqued his interest was a group of policemen from the local police station, located a stone’s throw from his house in Dhalpur, often visited him. Fascinated by seeing the rifles carried by the policemen, young Hriday kept checking them. And if that wasn’t enough, his father gave him an army uniform, which the then three-year-old wore every evening while walking with his father.

Hriday Hazarika shooter of Assam eyeing on Asian Games
“In local fairs (fairs) he used to shoot the balloons he was targeting. That was the starting point, from where we got to know his shooting skills. And that time around 25 km from our place. A shooting range opened at the local college. We decided to enroll him in the academy and initially, he started shooting pistols before working on rifle shooting,” explained his mother, Eva Saikia. who sacrificed his well-settled job as a teacher in a government school in Dhalpur. his son’s career.
Iva, who decided to quit her job in 2016, fondly remembers the day her 11-year-old son left for Guwahati in 2013 with dreams of Assam, and eventually representing India at the highest level happened.

“Initially, he had no rifle of his own and went ahead with the one provided by his former academy for his first tournament representing Assam. Even his uniform (a second-hand ) was provided by an official of the Assam Rifle and Shooting Association (ARSA),” said his mother.
Enrolled in a private school in the city, the youngster did not look back for the gun, as he went from strength to strength to establish himself in the junior circuit.

Hriday Hazarika shooter of Assam eyeing on Asian Games

“He did very well in the prestigious GV Mavalankar tournament and in his first Junior Nationals at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range in Faridabad, Harde scored a near perfect 595 out of 600. Analyzing his game, few experts predicted a bright future. For heart,” Iva recalled.
“On his return, we ensured that he got a new uniform and a rifle, but after some time, he managed to attract a sponsor, who has been promoting him ever since,” he said. said with a sense of pride as she recalled her childhood. As he slept hugging his rifle.
Competing against a room partner
Hriday, who is eyeing a place in the Asian Games squad, is well aware of the stiff competition from young Rudrankksh Patil, especially in the run-up to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 19-year-old from Thane had an impressive performance in 2022 when he became only the sixth Indian to win the World Championship title and more importantly, the Paris Games from July 26 to August 11, 2024. So got quota for India. So far India has the third quota in shooting at the Summer Games after trap shooter Bhowneesh Mendiratta and Swapnil Kusale (Rifle 3 position).
Interestingly, Hriday has been Rudrankksh’s room partner for the last three tournaments and the two shared a healthy camaraderie despite the truncated rivalry. “We have shared rooms in the last three World Cups. We share many experiences, and there is a friendly rivalry.

As far as the Olympic qualification process is concerned, the most significant change in the new qualification process is that a country can win only one quota place in an event, at the championships. In the past, a country could win both of its quota places in a single championship.
And unlike in the past, there will be no Olympic quota attached to them at the World Cup. Currently, only the World Championships and Continental Championships will offer Olympic quota.

“As you know, each country gets two quotas per event. So there is no doubt that the competition is going to heat up in the coming days as all countries will be hoping to grab the Paris quota places. .In India also it is very strict in all categories. After all, whoever wins the quota, it is not the athlete’s quota, it is the country’s quota, and whoever is in the best form gets the nod. Hridy said.
The Paris Olympics will feature 15 shooting events, as in Tokyo, including three mixed events in air rifle, air pistol and skeet.

But for now, Hriday is focused on making the squad for the Asian Games, and the World Cup silver has given him the right pedal to dream big.

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