A postgraduate student of international business at the city’s PSG College of Arts and Science, sharpshooter Gaayathri Nithyanandam, senior national champion in the 50 m Rifle 3 position (3P) in 2016 with a rich haul of over 100 medals thus far, has been shortlisted to represent India at the prestigious International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup 2019, scheduled for this month (February) in New Delhi.
The only child of business couple Kanchana and Nithyanandam, Gaayathri was just six when her parents signed her up for a summer coaching camp in the neighbouring Coimbatore Rifle Club (CRC).
Debuting at age 15 in the 2012 state championship in Madurai, Gaayathri bagged two gold, a silver and bronze. Two years later, she set four state records in the 50 metre Rifle, 3P and prone senior and junior women categories at the state shooting championship held in Madurai. Exhibiting continuous improvement, she was crowned junior national champion in the 50 metre Rifle 3P in the 2015 Delhi nationals and senior national champion in the 2016 Pune nationals. And at the All India KSS Championship 2018, she struck gold.
Simultaneously, Gaayathri debuted internationally with a bronze in the 3P individual and team events of the Junior World Cup 2016 staged in Gabala, Azerbaijan. At the ISSF World Cup 2018 in Munich, she was ranked #9 among senior women shooters.
All this hasn’t come naturally. This promising sharpshooter attributes her achievements to a rigorous training regimen. “Encouraged by my coach, I invest five hours daily at the CRC supplemented by workouts at the gym which have helped develop my mental strength, physical stamina and technical expertise,” acknowledges Gaayathri, who is sponsored by the Mumbai-based non-profit Olympic Gold Quest.
An academic topper, who has struck a fine balance between academics and a hectic travel schedule, Gaayathri has set herself an ambitious agenda for the future. “I have worked very hard towards my goal of participating in the World Cup. My focus now is on training intensively to improve my scores, win more medals and eventually represent India in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Moreover, I am confident of completing my Masters and getting into entrepreneurship,” she says.
Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)