Divyansh Singh Panwar has been a talent to look out for ever since he won the silver medal in the 10m air rifle event at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Beijing at the tender age of 16 to secure an Olympic berth.
And if the Coronavirus pandemic had not postponed the Tokyo Games, he would have been an Olympian even before turning 18.
Born in Rajasthan, he comes from a land of esteemed shooters like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Karni Singh, Om Prakash Mitharwal, and Apurvi Chandela to name a few.
The Olympic Channel tells you more about Panwar in detail.
How it all started for Panwar?
At 12, he took to shooting and started practicing with his elder sister Anjali's equipment at the Jangpura shooting range in Jaipur. He was training under Kuldeep Sharma until he shifted base to Delhi in 2017.
It is believed that because of his PUBG addiction his father, Ashok Panwar, sent him to the Karni Singh shooting range to train under Deepak Kumar Dubey. It was then that he got a new rifle and a pair of shoes to train with.
But, from his childhood, he had been interested in shooting. His father would draw targets on the wall and he would shoot at them with a plastic gun.
Transition from Junior to Seniors
In 2017, he hogged the limelight in both junior and youth nationals by winning all the 10m air rifle events, including the youth men’s and junior men’s events national selection trials 1 and 2.
But, in his first senior appearance in the ISSF World Cup in Delhi in February 2019, he was given a reality check. He finished 12th in qualification with a score of 627.2. He understood that he needs to be mentally stronger and more focused to get results amongst the best in business.
“Mentally strong banna hain [I have to become mentally strong]” he told reporters after his match in Delhi. “I need to concentrate on technique, the moment I forget my technique I stop hitting the inner 10s. Will have to improve a lot mentally [because] basics I already know, but I need to work on my mental game, I haven’t worked on that aspect so far.”
A day in Panwar's life
The day begins at 5:30 in the morning. A rigorous physical training session is followed until 6:30 with his coach. After having breakfast he heads towards the shooting range at 9 and keeps practicing until 1. In the evening he has another set of physical training session.
After having dinner, it is usually lights out at 10 pm. However, occasional late-night chats with his roommate Vivek is one of his favourite pastimes.
He practices meditation and carries a Bhagavad Gita pocketbook with him
The Golden Boy
In his brief career so far, Panwar has won six gold medals, two silvers and one bronze in international competition.
At the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany in 2018, the trio of Panwar Hriday Hazarika and Shahu Mane won gold in junior men's team 10m rifle event scoring 1875.3, a world junior record. In the junior mixed team event, he and Elavenil Valarivan broke the world junior record scoring 498.6 to secure another gold.
In the ISSF World Shooting Championships in 2018, he won bronze in the 10m air rifle junior mixed team event with partner Shreya Agarwal.
At the ISSF World Cup in Beijing in 2019, he won a gold in the mixed team event partnering Anjum Moudgil. The dream team from India bagged another gold medal at the Munich World Cup as well that year.
He bagged another gold with Croatian partner Snjezana Pejcic at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Putian.
In 2019, the prodigious talent won the coveted Golden Target Award, which is awarded to the best shooters of the season.
Training during Covid and preparing for Olympics
The Coronavirus pandemic dented his preparations for the Tokyo Games. But the shooter kept his spirits high and turned his coach Dubey's flat into a makeshift shooting range.
His sixth-floor fat in Faridabad has three bedrooms adjacent to each other and he made use of the lobby to make a 10m distance to get a clear shot of the target.
"I realised that we could get a 10 metre distance if I empty stuff from two of my rooms and a lobby in between to get a clear shot at the target," Dubey told AFP. "I pasted all the yellow cards, lighting is also good, I checked with the l lighting is also good, I checked with the lux meter. So no problem for training.
Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics, is his idol and after his outstanding performances in international events he was promoted from developmental group to the core group of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).