Taking aim, the Suma Shirur way

The 2004 Athens Olympian wants the next generation of shooters to improve their work ethic and be prepared to give back to society when time comes. 

By Naveen Peter

High-performance coach with the Indian junior rifle team, Suma Shirur, wants her shooters to feel the qualities of an Olympian in themselves.

Speaking to Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan in an Instagram live session, the shooter who represented India at Athens 2004, said that she wanted her shooters to show the hunger that often pushes top athletes.

“I would say that as an athlete we are never satisfied, we always want to win, we want to win as many competitions as we can. That hasn’t changed even today. With my juniors, once we got out for a match there’s something inside me where I want to win as many matches as I can,” she said.

“Irrespective of whether my juniors become future Olympians or not, I really want them to have the qualities that Olympians have in them. I want to see that in all my athletes, I want an Olympian inside of them whether they actually make it or not.

“That’s the greatest quality that a sportsman can develop and they should have. This is ultimately what I want to see in my athlete.”

Citing instances from her career, a period that saw her win a clutch of medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games apart from making the Olympics, Suma Shirur believed that sports can forge personalities of these athletes as well.

“Most of the shooters are shy at the initial days but slowly you can see the transition in them,” reasoned Suma Shirur, who equalled the 10m Air Rifle world record in qualifications at the 2004 Asian Shooting Championships.

“And I feel they can really add value to any organisation surely by the work culture that they develop over the years. We are used to hard work, we are focused and that’s how life is for us. They can really make a huge value in any organization they join.”

Giving back to society

The Arjuna awardee added: “I think honestly an Olympian can always be an asset. I remember from my experience, I was in the Indian Railways when I was an active shooter and we used to work for half days.

“And our senior officers would always say that an athlete coming in half-day is as good as the full-time employees. They used to appreciate me a lot. We athletes are very much focused and are concentrated towards our work.”

Suma Shirur has been an integral part of the all-conquering Indian shooting team that has left people in awe over the past few years. 

But apart from the performances at the range, what’s stood out about the current scenario in India is the number of former shooters who have returned to give back to the sport in their own way.

Suma Shirur believes that the various initiatives will keep India in good standing in the years to come.

“I would say, the present is so nice, the present is so fantastic that in 15-20 years we should be enjoying the glory of success over the years hopefully,” she said. 

“As long as all the shooters are giving back to society what they have got and creating a larger base where more and more champions are coming out of it, it’s going to be fantastic,” the former Indian shooter hoped.