“All my life, I worked towards going to the Olympics. I experienced great joy when I qualified for the Olympics with a world record score and eventually made it to the finals at the Athens Olympics, 2004. The thirst continues; the passion overflows for the game as coach”. -Suma Shirur.
Her family is a family of scholars with doctorates, yet she never distracted herself from chasing her dreams of becoming a world champion in the field of rifle shooting. With immense excitement we bring you the insights of her journey, her beliefs and approach towards her career and achievements through her words.
What were your aspirations in childhood?
Suma: I was always attracted to sports. My aspirations were definitely more inclined towards something in sports.
How did Rifle Shooting happen to you?
Suma: I did reasonably well in small bore rifle shooting for the first time in SIES Sion through NCC. That was also the first time I was introduced to this sport. I was spotted by Sir Sanjay Chakravarty, a Dronacharya awardee, who mentored and groomed me in the sport along with Mr B.P.Bam in my formative years. That’s how it all started.
Every successful person definitely has his share of initial struggles. What was that for Suma Shirur?
Suma: Back then there were hardly any shooting facilities in Navi Mumbai. I had to travel to MRA, Worli from Panvel by bus, two and a half hours each way to practise shooting. Also there was a lack of access to the right and best equipment in those days which I believe was a challenge for aspiring shooters like me.
When did you get your first major break?
Suma: My first major break came in 2002 at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where I won medals in the individual and team events of 10 metre air rifle.
What was that one turn around point of your career?
Suma: When I made the world record by scoring the maximum of 400 points in the qualification round, at the 2004 Asian Shooting Championships in Kuala Lumpur. There was no looking back for me then. This was a do or die opportunity for me since this was also my last chance to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Suma stormed into the finals of 2004 Athens Olympics. The podium finish eluded her though. She dedicates her achievement to her coach Laszlo who drafted a fantastic plan for her leading up to the Olympics in August throughout the summer of 2004.
All successful sports persons have their highs and lows. Suma believes in handling her low points by keeping an affirmative outlook and with a positive introspection. Meeting her coach Gaby Buhrmann of Germany was an event that changed her entire outlook to shooting as an athlete and as a coach. Suma was inspired to share her learning with the next generation shooters and wanted to give it back to the society. That’s when she decided to come up with Lakshya Shooting Academy, Panvel.
What do you believe is the proper role of parents in any athletic program?
Suma: Parents play a very important role in molding a child’s interest into a career. They have to be supportive of their child without putting the burden of expectations on him or her. They must give unconditional support and have faith in the coach.
How do you think Rifle Shooting has evolved across years?
Suma: From being a fringe or niche sport a couple of decades ago, to becoming the priority sport of our country, shooting has come a long way.
What according to Suma Shirur are the three key attributes to become a good rifle shooter?
Suma: Hard work, good hand eye coordination and balance.
Last but not the least,The Arjuna Award, how did you feel when it came? Were you intimated in advance or was it a surprise?Suma: It was a surprise. It was one of the high points of my career, receiving it from the favorite President of India – A P J Abdul Kalam.
“Every woman achiever needs a good support system” is what Suma Shirur says. For her, the journey would have not been an easy one without the unstinting family support, especially from her husband and childhood sweetheart Siddharth Shirur and an affirmative approach towards her dreams.
A person with strong determination, right attitude and amazing disciplinary skills, her journey is an inspiration to millions of aspiring shooters and is an ideal example of –determination can take you a long way.
Achievement comes out of fire in our subconscious mind that “I will win” – APJ Abdul Kalam