Rahi SARNOBAT

India IND

Shooting

  • Games participations
    2
  • First Olympic Games
    London 2012
  • Year of Birth
    1990
Olympic Results

Biography

Rahi SARNOBAT

Rahi Sarnobat is a record-breaking 25m pistol shooter from India.

The two-time Olympian was the first Indian pistol shooter to win an ISSF World Cup gold and the first Indian woman shooter to win gold at the Asian Games.

When she won bronze at the ISSF World Cup in Fort Benning in 2011, Rahi Sarnobat also became the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics in the 25m pistol event.

She had barely scraped through to the final rounds in Fort Benning but delivered there, missing out on silver by 0.1 points in an event where the gold was won by Chen Ying with a then-world record score of 796.7.

Born in the small town of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Rahi Sarnobat’s desire for sport was fulfilled by her school senior and fellow shooter, Tejaswini Sawant.

Though Sawant is a rifle shooter, her younger colleague did not quite know the difference between a rifle and pistol when she visited the shooting range as a 16-year-old and opted for the latter at random.

Rahi Sarnobat’s talent surfaced soon - within six months of formal training, she won two golds and a bronze in pistol events at a national shooting camp and then went on to win the Super Cup at the Junior Championships in Germany.

Her biggest moment as a teenager arrived when she won the 25m pistol gold at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games at Pune.

Two years later, Rahi Sarnobat triumphed at the main event, winning the 25m pistol pairs gold at the Commonwealth Games with Anisa Sayyed to add to her silver in the individual event.

It was a proud moment for Kolhapur as her inspiration, Tejaswini Sawant too returned with two silver medals of her own.

Looking back, it was just the beginning of Sarnobat’s career peak. The bronze at Fort Benning, in just her sixth World Cup, happened the following year and the biggest stage of them all, the 2012 London Olympics beckoned when she was just 21.

The shooter finished 19th in the 25m pistol with a score of 579, missing the cut to the final by a four-point margin, a tidy outing for the youngster who had just graduated to the big stage.

Not entirely happy with her preparations, Rahi Sarnobat channeled her frustration to the range. At the 2013 ISSF World Cup in Changwon, South Korea, she held her nerves in the final to beat local hope Kyeongae Kim to become the first pistol shooter from India to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup.

She defended her Commonwealth Games gold in the 2014 edition and also claimed her maiden Asian Games medal the same year, a bronze medal in the 25m pistol team event.

Just as she was building up momentum for another Games appearance, Rahi Sarnobat began feeling the after-effects of a bad fall in 2015, an accident that had seriously impacted her elbow.

The shooter had to take time off to allow the injury to heal, a decision that even left her contemplating retirement a year later, as youngsters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary started making waves. Consequently, she missed out on Rio 2016.

The shooter had not yet regained full confidence a few months after returning to shooting in 2017 but her inclusion in the national team gave her just the boost she wanted.

The same year, she also decided to hire German-Mongolian Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a two-time Olympic bronze medallist, as her coach.

The two had competed against each other at the 2012 London Olympics and Dorjsuren’s experience of standing on an Olympic podium drew Rahi Sarnobat to her. One of the first things Dorjsuren worked on was on her mental conditioning, much needed after a two-year injury break.

The efforts paid off at the 2018 Asian Games. Rahi Sarnobat played a tense final with Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon, the tie going to two shoot-offs, the second of which the Indian shooter clinched by one point.

It made her the first female shooter from India to win an Asian Games gold and the moment was made more memorable by Anjali Bhagwat, another one of Rahi Sarnobat’s inspirations, calling the final. Her comeback was complete.

Rahi Sarnobat was conferred the Arjuna Award in recognition of her efforts the same year.

The Indian shooter has continued her path to redemption since, with a gold at the ISSF World Cup in Munich in 2019, winning India a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I think the Olympic Games are more about mental control than technical because every competitor is ready to perform,” she says. “It is just a matter of how you take it.”

Included in the Indian shooting team for Tokyo, Rahi Sarnobat won a 25m silver at the 2021 New Delhi ISSF World Cup and gold at the ISSF World Cup in Croatia in the lead up to the Summer Games.

However, she couldn’t replicate the form at Tokyo as she finished 32nd among 44 shooters in the women’s 25m pistol qualification and failed to make the cut for the medal round.

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Tokyo 2020

#32
25m Pistol Women
25m Pistol Women Shooting
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

London 2012

#19
Sporting Pistol, 25 metres
Sporting Pistol, 25 metres Shooting

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