One of the legends of sports shooting Rajmond Debevec isn’t surprised with the talent Indian shooting has produced over the past few years.
Speaking with the London 2012 bronze medallist Gangan Narang during an Instagram Live session on his academy Gun for Glory’s page, the Slovenian credited the concentrated effort by the Indian shooting community for this change.
“I think it is harder to make the Indian team than to win Olympic gold,” said Rajmond Debevec before breaking into a laugh. “You have a huge number of talented shooters. It is hard to follow them. They just come and shoot such perfect scores.
“Am not surprised. You have academies like yours (Gun for Glory). You guys invest so much into developing the sport of shooting in India and I am sure you will have many medallists in future.”
While Gagan Narang concurred with his senior pro’s views, the former Indian shooter believed that the performance of the previous generation too had played a role in helping raise the bar of shooting in India.
“Shooters today have a lot of history to look up to. I think if we hadn't performed, the benchmark wouldn't be as high as it is today.
“Now they don't want to just participate in the Olympics, they want to win at the Olympics. That's the attitude that's changed over the period,” observed Gagan Narang.
Rajmond Debevec’s Olympic dream
Though the Slovenian Debevec has participated in eight Olympics so far, he had to wait till his fifth appearance, at Sydney 2000, to taste his first Olympic medal.
The 57-year-old won the gold in the 50m Rifle 3 Position before adding a bronze in the same event at Beijing 2008. Rajmond Debevec’s third Olympic medal came at London 2012, a bronze in the 50m Rifle Prone.
While initial losses were hard to deal with, it was his hunger to succeed at the biggest stage that drove the Slovenian time and again.
“It is probably my personality,” reasoned Rajmond Debevec who looked up to the former gymnast Miroslav Cerar from erstwhile Yugoslavia for inspiration.
“Initially, when I set myself a goal, it was just about participating in an Olympics. That happened in 1984. Then my target was to win a medal at the Olympics.
“I have always been very ambitious. It was my character. I had a goal and had to fulfil it. When you climb a mountain, there is no retreat before you reach the top.”
Though Rajmond Debevec started his career playing under the Yugoslavian flag, his Olympic triumphs came after Slovenia had declared independence.
And the transition from being a Yugoslavian athlete to representing Slovenia was an emotional one, filled with many uncertainties for the shooting great.
“The transition period was very unsure. We got the recognition from other countries, but we were unsure if the IOC recognised us. But lucky all went rather smoothly. And we were soon shooting for Slovenia,” he said.
“Actually, I won a quota place (for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) before Slovenia declared its independence.
“But the IOC came up with a rule that said that the quota places obtained by the individual shooters would go with them. That worked in my favour,” he pointed out.
The war and the fight for independence might have left a lasting impact on the generations that followed, but Rajmond Debevec is keen to look at the positives.
“But on the flip side, I kept meeting my former Yugoslavia team-mates at the competitions later and we never had any problems.
“We were friends, we stayed friends and we continue to be friends even today,” he shared.