Blog by : Anuradha Guha
Anjali Bhagwat, or Anjali Ramakantha Vedpathak is an Indian shooter, popularly heralded as ‘The Girl Who Never Misses’. She earned the epithet of World Number One in 10m Air Rifle in 2002.
Anjali was born in a simple Marathi family in Mumbai. From a very young age, she was deeply inspired by the famous athlete, Carl Lewis. She came across shooting as a cadet in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). After finishing her schooling, she enrolled in the Kirti College in Mumbai simple because of it’s short distance to NCC. As a part of her activities she got into the Maharashtra Rifle Association (MRA) and started shooting at the age of 21.
Her first coach was Sanjiv Chakravarti and she gives him the credit for her strong beliefs and determination, instilled over a period of 5 years. She first participated in the National Championships in 1988 and won a silver medal for her state. Her first participation in an international event was in 1995 in the SAF games. She is the only woman to have won a World Cup for India.
In 1999 she started training under the Hungarian coach, Laszlo Szucsak. Both of her coaches contributed a lot in shaping her as a sportswoman but they were also in awe of Anjali’s seamless execution of their instructions in the field.
In 2000, Anjali became the 2nd Indian woman to reach the final Olympics, the first being P.T.Usha. She also received the silver medal at the World Cup finals held in Munich. In 2002, she was ranked the number one player in the world. Throughout the duration of 1998-2001 , Anjali won four gold medals in the Commonwealth Games.
Anjali Bhagwat was the face of women’s shooting in India. As a woman, it wasn’t easy for her achieve her dreams, but she persisted in her life with will and determination, striving to make her dreams come true. In our country, women are seldom encourage to play sports, leave alone take it up as a career option. But she did so, and went on to become of the most successful players of India, making her country proud.
Anjali was a believer in hard work. She herself said that while shooting, she forgot everything else in the world. She was quoted saying- “At the international level, every shooter has their own coach, psychologist and manager, who takes care of every player’s needs. This helps the player move forward. Since we do not get any such facility, our success is more delightful.”
She also was a firm believer in having control over your mind, even in the most stressful of situations. She said- “Only those who handle the pressure well , will make their talent count.”
Anjali received the ‘Arjuna Award’ in a 2000 and the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award’ in 2003 for her performance in the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
Anjali worked hard for her success and is an inspiration to all the women of India that if they have the talent, and the courage to pursue it, they too can get their dreams.