| KUALA LUMPUR, April 12
KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 Indian golfer Jyoti
Randhawa will be hard at work at the driving and shooting ranges
in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics, his ever-improving
proficiency with a rifle leaving him dreaming of an unlikely
double gold medal haul.
"Wow, that would be nice. Gold in golf and gold in shooting
and then I can retire," the 39-year-old, smiling at the thought,
told Reuters in an interview at the Malaysian Open before he
went out to shoot an opening round six-under 66.
Golf has been the New Delhi-native's career since he turned
professional in 1994 but, thanks to his father, shooting has
been a long standing passion which is fast dominating his
"It is something I have been doing all my life because my
father was in the army so I shot a lot of weapons and I just
enjoy shooting," the tall, lean Randhawa explained.
"I go shoot with these national shooters. I shoot skeet,
trap and then I go shoot rifles on the targets. I just went and
qualified for this shooting championship."
'This shooting championship' was in fact India's national
championship and although Randhawa failed to trouble the elite
marksman, he took enough confidence from the experience to
believe he has, with practice, a future in the sport.
"I will be shooting three times this year, that will be
after May, June so hopefully I can get my scores up there."
While his father's tutelage has obviously helped him become
a competitive shot, the Indian said the similarities between his
two sports have made the transition easier.
"I just think it is so close to golf because you need so
much focus and concentration to be able to place that bullet 300
yards into a nine inch gap to get 10 points.
"There was a lot of stress in (shooting) competition but I
have done that all my life. I have handled stress and
competition pressure in golf so it is easier for me to handle in
shooting especially if it is to do with mental stress and
pressure so it is very similar."
GREAT FOR BOTH OF US
While Randhawa's fame has grown through the capturing of
eight Asian Tour titles and becoming the first Indian to win the
circuit's Order of Merit crown as best golfer in 2002, his
emergence in the shooting world has raised his profile higher.
Shooting is one of the fastest-growing sports in India and
an unprecedented 11 shooters will represent the country at the
London Olympics later this year.
The double trap silver Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won at
Athens in 2004 triggered its spurt, before Abhinav Bindra
claimed the 10 metre air rifle event in Beijing to become the
first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold.
"It added colour to shooting because a professional golfer
coming into shooting it was in the papers and I was carrying a
gun and seen shooting and they were covering me on TV and they
were covering me on radio," Randhawa said.
"So I got a lot of coverage which I'm happy about, shooting
got a lot of coverage because of me coming into shooting which
was great for both of us."
Success on the golf course has dwindled in recent years and
his last tournament win came more than three years ago but two
top-20 finishes in recent tournaments offer hope he can regain
his place as India's number one.
However, Randhawa conceded that time was running out on that
"Five, eight years down the line I don't think I will be
playing golf that long so shooting is very close to my heart and
I think I will pursue that," he said.
"The seniors tour won't be that serious, it will be just to
make money, have a bit of fun golfing, but definitely shooting
will be there.
"But frankly speaking, it is very tough to be able to
perform at Olympic level in two sports because both take a lot
out of you. But you know, if I know myself, I won't be very far
(Editing by John O'Brien)