Tejaswini Has Done Kolhapur Proud, Says Mother

Kolhapur (Maharashtra), Aug 9 (IANS): Kolhapur girl Tejaswini Sawant has done the city proud by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the World Shooting Championships, but it was not an easy victory, said her mother.

"She has worked hard and struggled a lot to work her way to the top. She has done Kolhapur proud," said Sunita, Tejaswini's mother.

Tejaswini scored 597 out of 600 points in the 50-metre rifle prone event, clinching gold and equalling the world record set by Russian Marina Bobkova in 1998.

The 29-year-old shooter lost her father in February this year and it left her disturbed and worried, said Sunita.

"When my husband passed away in February due to a liver-related ailment, Tejaswini was disturbed. Her practice also suffered. But she pulled herself together and the gold medal she has got is a dedication to her father," Sunita said.

Tejaswini's father Ravindra was a retired electrical engineer in the Navy. Tejaswini has two younger sisters - Anuradha and Vijaymala - both married.

Sunita, who played cricket and volleyball during her college days, said she would have been glad if her husband was alive. "The victory would have been complete," she said.

Sunita reminisced how her little 'Teju' had taken a liking to shooting when she was 13. "Teju participated in NCC camps and took an instant liking to rifles. She expressed her desire to make a career out of shooting and we decided to train her in the sport," Sunita said.

"Initially she trained from Jaisingh Kusale, a master shooter, who had trained in the US. This gave her a strong foundation. Although Kusaleji is no more, Teju still remembers him," Sunita added.

Sawant has bagged a total of 75 medals, out of which 25 have come at the international level. "We particularly remember the national championship that took place in Guwahati, Assam in 2007. Tejaswini had won six gold medals in various individual and team events. Maharashtra had won 26 medals in that event, six of which were bagged only by Teju," said a proud mother.

The Sawants lived in rented house till 2006, shifting often. But when Tejaswini struck gold in the 10-metre air rifle singles and 10-metre air rifle pairs at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, the state government recognised her talent and allotted a plot of more than 5,000 sq ft on which they constructed a bungalow.

Tejaswini was also appointed in the district sports department at Kolhapur in 2008. "She has now become an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in Pune and we are all very proud of her," said Rajendra Ghagde, district sports officer of Kolhapur.

"Although she has become an OSD now, she still coaches little children like a teacher. There is no trace of arrogance in her. She is the same hardworking, sports loving girl who grew up in this town which has 18 Arjuna Award winners and many national level sportsmen," Ghagde added.


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Title: Tejaswini Has Done Kolhapur Proud, Says Mother

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