Who is Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar? Five things you need to know about the Tokyo-bound shooter
The name is Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar. However, it has often been mispronounced and misspelled due to its close resemblance to Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
"I have been called Aishwarya Rai a lot, today it was Akshay Kumar! Pata nahi kya chal raha hai! (Don't know what is happening)," a bemused Aishwary once said.
Initially, even in the ISSF records, he had to get the name altered as it was spelled wrongly. Back then he was a new kid on the block. But within a few years, he has made a name for himself in the international arena through patience and perseverance. He qualified for Tokyo 2020, in men's 50m rifle 3P at the 14th Asian Championship where he clinched a bronze medal with a score of 449.1.
In the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in March 2021, he clinched gold with a score of 462.5. In the process, he defeated world no.1 Hungary's Istvan Peni and Denmark's Steffen Olsen. He continued his brilliant run in the European Championship and grabbed third place in the MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) section. He is currently ranked at no.2 in the world and is tipped to finish on the podium at the Olympics.
Let us take a look at five interesting facts about him.
Growing up with guns
Aishwary's father, Veer Bahadur Singh, is a connoisseur of rifles and hence, from a very young age he was exposed to guns and weapons.
"We are Rajputs, so we keep weapons in our house. Moreover, my father is a farmer, so he used to keep guns. From a very young age, I used to go to the fields and try shooting targets," Singh told Olympics.com.
In fact, rather than brush-up his lessons, he would brush his father's shotgun and break-barrel gun whenever he got a chance.
Inspiration from cousin
Aishwary's cousin Navdeep Singh Rathore was himself a shooter and he practiced at the Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy, in Bhopal. He would often watch his elder brother leave for foreign shores to participate in various competitions and bring back medals. That sparked his interest in shooting and he soon followed suit.
"When I arrived in Bhopal MPSA, I was only 15. He was like my guardian over here. In fact, I started training under him and not any professional coach," he said.
Getting suspended for a year
Aishwary was suspended in his very first year at the nationals due to technical reasons. He could not compete in any tournament for a year, which he says was the most difficult period of his career.
"A butt plate was 1 cm below the permitted level and due to this technical reason, I was suspended. I had to start from scratch, play state level, then pre-national, and then nationals. It was the toughest period," he later revealed.
New Junior World Record
At the 2019 ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany, Aishwary set a new world record by posting a score of 459.3. He broke the record of Filip Nepejchal of Czech Republic who had shot 458.7 in the Beijing World Cup earlier that year.
Overcoming growth spurt before Delhi World Cup
Aishwary had a growth spurt during the lockdown. This meant that his old jacket wouldn't fit him anymore and he had to come to Mumbai to get a new one sewn before the World Cup. So he had to adjust to his new suit so before he could shoot.
“Post-lockdown he suddenly looked bigger,” coach Shuma Shirur told the Olympics.com. “I left him looking like a kid and he came out looking like an adult!”
Despite that, he won gold and became the youngest Indian to do so in the 50m 3P event in a World Cup.