Within three years of taking to the shooting range, Kulesara village (Uttar Pradesh)-based teenage sharpshooter Shivam Thakur (17) bagged gold and silver medals in individual and group categories of the men’s 10m air pistol shooting event at the Indo-Malaysia International Championship 2020 organised by the Malaysia School Games and Activity Development Foundation in Kuala Lumpur in early February. In March, Shivam pledged 60 percent of his annual earnings for the next three years to sportspersons in the grip of financial loss during the pandemic induced lockdown.
The younger child of grocery store proprietor, Arun Kumar Thakur, and his homemaker wife Mamta, Shivam quit a promising career in cricket after suffering a knee injury at a U-19 national camp in Kochi in 2014. This life changing event prompted the young sports aficionado and his father to co-promote the non-profit SGADF (School Games and Activity Development Foundation) in 2016. Formally registered with international sports federations (TAFISA, IAKS, ICSSPE) and recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 2017, the foundation which enables budding athletes to realise their dreams, has thus far been represented by 600,000 athletes in multiple tournaments countrywide.
Simultaneously, this then class IX student of the DVM Public School, Greater Noida took to the sport of pistol shooting as he “had to play competitive sport”. “Since engaging a private coach is very expensive, I learned the techniques and nuances of pistol shooting from watching You-Tube videos, attending shooting championships and doing extensive reading on marksmanship,” he recalls. In 2018, he won his first gold medal at an international shooting championship in Bangladesh, and his extraordinary shooting skills prompted sports foundations in 17 countries worldwide to connect with him. This publicity won him several advertising contracts and corporate sponsorships, notably from the Bangalore-based Shiv Naresh Sport Apparel and Indigo Airlines. His rise to the top in the 10m pistol shooting event is an extraordinary narrative of spirit, determination and ability to seize the moment.
Right now this young, socially committed shooting star is training for the European Youth Games in September and the World Youth Games in Portugal in October 2021. “I also intend to send at least ten athletes from SGADF to represent India in international tournaments. My ultimate dream is to win a medal for India at the 2025 Olympics,” says this gritty teenager with his heart in the right place.
Autar Nehru (Delhi)
Also read: Nikhil Lemos