Tilottama Sen: 14-yr-old world shooting champ, inspiring youngsters

Tilottama recalled her meeting with Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and stated that the meeting with the former shooter was a turning point in her life.
Tilottama Sen
Tilottama SenANI

BENGALURU: Tilottama Sen, the 14-year-old Indian shooter has brought laurels to the country at an age when children are still figuring out their life ambitions and going through puberty. Already following a career, which she got into during the lockdown, the teenager has turned her hobby into an inspirational success story.

The shooter won bronze in the women's 10m Air Rifle, the final medal event of competition day three of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol, in Cairo, Egypt carving a name for herself during her early teens. Tilottama credited her dad for pushing her into shooting during the Covid lockdown in an attempt to reduce her screen time.

Sharing her story of how she took up shooting during the lockdown, she said, "During the lockdown, everything was shut including the school and I was spending the majority of my time using a mobile phone. That's when my Dad asked me to take up shooting to reduce my screen time and this is how I got into shooting."

Tilottama recalled her meeting with Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and stated that the meeting with the former shooter was a turning point in her life. She added that the meeting sparked motivation and inspired her to excel in the sport. "I have played other sports as well including karate and volleyball. In my initial days I met Abhinav Bindra and that was the turning point.

His success in the Olympics inspired me and upon meeting him he motivated me which made me feel I could also replicate his success," the teenager said speaking to ANI.

The shooter mentioned the challenges faced by her when pursuing the sport and highlighted the sport being costly. "Shooting is a very expensive sport. Buying a gun was very difficult and not just that, all the equipment including the shoes, kit etc., was a tall task. I started with one of the shooting range weapons and after some time was able to get my own gun. Buying the gun was the most difficult task. My dad took a loan for my weapon and my relatives supported me as well," Tilottama said.

Talking about her parent's expectations of her from the sport she stated that her parents never dreamt that she would go beyond national tournaments and excel at shooting, bringing in a medal on the global stage.

"My parents never expected me to achieve success at the international level. They had expected me to qualify for the nationals and participate in it. That's the most they had expected of me in the sport. My performance in the nationals was not up to the mark and that fuelled me to get better and excel in the sport. That's when I decided to give it more time, train harder and dive into it whole-heartedly to prove to people I could also hit the mark and be a top shooter," expressed the 14-year-old.

The shooter shared her experience of being the youngest player in the squad at the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol and said, "It was my first senior World Cup and I had many senior players, some of whom were Olympians. I learnt things from the seasoned shooters and it was fun to be around them. I was pretty confident because my preparation was really well heading into the match."

Keen on winning the Olympic quota for Paris 2024, the shooter said that she is excited to participate in the events ahead of the Olympic quota event in Baku and is looking forward to it. "The ultimate goal is definitely the Olympics but before that, there are a few tournaments coming up. We have the next World Cup in Bhopal.

There are matches in Baku which will be the Olympic Quota matches and that is something I am really looking forward to. Good performance in those matches will help India get a quota for the Paris Olympics," she added.

Tilottama stated that handling the pressure in tense situations and replicating her robust performances in practice sessions is the recipe for success ad which cuts her apart from experienced players in the sport. "It's just how you can execute it in the match. Everybody is shooting well in practice but the shooters who can handle the match pressure excel and I guess I have been able to do it better than some of the shooters," the talented shooter mentioned.

She also talked about the support received from the Reliance foundation and said, "It has supported me a lot. They have provided me with a nutritionist, a psychologist and a physiotherapist, who has taught me a few breathing techniques that have enhanced my performance in the matches, especially during the finals."

Tilottama ended the top eight ranking round with a score of 262.0, missing out on the gold medal match by the narrowest possible margin of 0.1. Her medal was India's fifth of the competition, a second bronze to add to three golds.

She was crowned world champion in the 10m Air Rifle Women Junior event after she defeated China's Ying Shen 16-12 in a close gold medal encounter at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship Rifle/Pistol in Cairo, Egypt. Earlier she had topped qualification with a sizzling 633.4 which equals the currently listed world record in the event.

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