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June 07, 2017

Feisty Achievers: Heena Sidhu

Text by Tina Dastur. Photograph by Prateek Patel

For shooting her way to the world number one spot in 2014 — the first Indian pistol shooter to achieve the distinction

If there’s one thing Heena Sidhu knows (aside from shooting), it’s about realising childhood passions and making a career out of what you grew up loving. Forgoing a lucrative and stable career in dentistry, Sidhu took up pistol shooting upon the realisation that she would rather be the world’s best pistol shooter than a mediocre dentist. Among her many significant achievements, her world number one rank in 2014 stands out because it made her the first Indian pistol shooter to top the international charts — no mean feat.

Eye spy
A shooter must be observant and observe changes, improvements and even failures. One should stick to the facts and should those facts lead to questioning even the most basic aspect of one’s technique or mindset, one must not be afraid to make changes. Being open to self-criticism can be the most valuable weapon of a shooter.

On a day off
I read a lot, so you might find me reading both fiction books like Harry Potter and The Hobbit and non-fiction ones on sports, psychology, medicine, anatomy and interior design. I also dabble in drawing, sketching and painting. Right now, though, I am busy setting up my new house in Pune, which will be my training base to prepare for the 2020 Olympics.

On competition, criticism and comparisons
Competition is always good as it brings out the best in everyone. I think we are made of sterner mettle than to take criticism or comparison to heart. We have to face far bigger challenges to get our hands on the gold, so criticism and comparison are the least of our worries.

Highs and lows
Over the years, you eventually realise that winning and losing is not your job. Your job is to follow the process better than anybody else, or better than you did yesterday. For me, that is winning. Shooters that win the Olympic gold may not be the best shooters of all time, but they were the best on that day because they followed the process fearlessly.

On women in sports
We are doing really well and our recent medallists at the 2016 Rio Olympics are proof of that. It gives me immense pleasure to see that my fellow sportswomen are fighting against all odds to realise their potential. However, many women are unfortunately still trapped in the web of gender biases. I want them to stand up for their rights, work hard and persevere to realise their dreams.

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