Tracing Shahzar Rizvi’s rise from an obscure Meerut village to being the top-ranked shooter in the world
Shahzar Rizvi is startled by the number of missed calls on his mobile as he groggily gets up from the bed. Having just returned from South Korea, he’s catching up on his sleep. Another call and this time he picks it up only to be told that he has just become the new World No 1 in 10m air pistol.
A gold medal in his maiden World Cup appearance helped the shooting fraternity to take notice of him and then the silver medal in a tougher field, a couple of months later, ensured he will be one of the top Indian shooters to watch out for as the race for the Olympics slots hots up. “I am still not happy with the scores I am getting in competitions. I am scoring in the region of 585-588 in practice but I am not able to replicate them in the tournaments,’’ points out Shahzar who has scored 579 and 582 in his last two World Cup qualification rounds.
The newly-crowned World No 1 will now be travelling to Germany for a short training stint which will be followed by yet another World Cup in Munich. A visit to Germany will allow him and his coach Ronak Pandit to not only fine-tune his technique, but also work on his equipment. To ensure that the team is not overburdened with competitions and there is sufficient time for training, the Indian shooting team is giving the World Cup in Fort Benning in USA a miss.
“I am still not happy with the scores I am getting in competitions. I am scoring in the region of 585-588 in practice but I am not able to replicate them in the tournaments,’’ points out Shahzar who has scored 579 and 582 in his last two World Cup qualification rounds.
Shahzar Rizvi is now the World No 1 in the 10m air pistol category
With a crammed international calendar and a busy training regimen, Shahzar hardly gets time to spend time with his parents and his wife who are based in Mawana Khurd, a small village in Meerut. “The only gift for myself for attaining the World No 1 ranking is a visit to my village for a day and having biriyani at home,’’ reveals Shahzar.
It was in his village that Shahzar developed his fascination to hit the bulls-eye trying his hand at air guns and slings. “The village also helped me to become an international shooter because of the constant rebuke from many of the elders and some relatives. They taunted me for wasting my father’s money by pursuing a rich man’s sport. And there were some of my friends who dismissed my childhood dreams of becoming a national champion as mere fantasy. I was angry but I did not show it. I took a pledge to prove everyone wrong,’’ reminisces Shahzar.
“I had initially wanted to take up double trap because I had two cousins — Rayyan and Sahul who were pursuing the sport. But because it was a costlier affair, I decided to opt for pistol shooting. My father sent me at Amar Pratap Singh’s academy in Meerut. And within few months, I had attained scores to qualify for the nationals,’’ says Shahzar.