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Monday, July 22, 2024

The rise & rise of Subedar Vijay Kumar

Nearly 150 sharpshooters danced in joy on Friday at the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. It was a special night for them – their colleague Vijay Kumar had bagged an Olympic silver.

Vijay Kumar

Among them was Pemba Tamang whose friendship with Vijay dates back to more than nine years, when the latter joined the unit in Mhow. Pemba and Vijay quickly struck a close bond and emerged as two of Army’s best shooters.The pair went on to win the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol (pairs) event besides earning more laurels subsequently.Tamang, one of India’s reserve shooters in the 25m rapid fire pistol, believes there is a world of difference between the Vijay of 2006 and 2012. “A shooter is like good wine, he improves with age. The same is true with Vijay, whose mental strength has improved with each passing year. That facet of his game came to the fore in the final today as well.”How’s Vijay outside the shooting range? “He has always been a quiet fellow and that has not changed in the last 10-odd years that I have known him. It’s amazing that he didn’t pick up a pistol before he joined the army ranks. But look where he has ended in such a short span of time! I wouldn’t rule out Vijay improving on this performance in four years time in Rio. If Sergei Martynov can win a gold at the age of 49, why not Vijay?” Tamang asked.Vijay joined the Army in 2001 and was inducted into the AMU in 2003. The AMU is a specialized unit functioning within the Infantry School in Mhow with an aim to identify talented shooters from within the Army. Colonel Jaiveer Singh Saran, commanding officer of AMU, told TOI, “All the trainees present watched the action on a big screen.Vijay’s silver medal will be their inspiration.” He added, “Vijay was a sure shot for the medal, mainly due to his commitment and focus.” Lt Col SVS Rajvee, in charge of the training at AMU, said, “Vijay’s strong point is that he picks up things very fast.”However, Vijay’s rise towards the top began after he came in contact with Russian coach Smirnoc Pavel, who was recruited by the Army. “Pavel’s guidance helped him excel,” the CO said.Though he joined the unit as a sepoy, a flurry of national and international medals helped Vijay climb five ranks to subedar. “From sepoy, he directly became a havildar,” informed Tamang.Pistol shooter Gurpreet Singh, who paired with Vijay to win India the gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, said: “I’m training with him since 2007. His hard work has paid off. He always had a good record in finals.”

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