Life has undergone a sea change ever since Vijay Kumar returned from London. The flashlights, the adulation — he is in an unfamiliar universe these days. When you have a historic Olympic silver, you don’t belong to the common rung of men anymore.
“It was not that no one else has achieved this feat, but yes my event was the toughest,” said the 25m rapid-fire silver medallist. For the record, he is only the fourth Indian shooter after Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang to have won an Olympic medal.
Vijay recapped the events of the final day. “After a clean sweep in the first round, I followed it with four out of five, which was quite decent. However, in one of the rounds I shot three. That was the time I was a bit nervous and scared,” Vijay told over phone.
So were thoughts of a medal playing on his mind? “When I went to the Games, my aim was to reach the final. In the final, I wanted to take one round at a time. I could breathe easy once I was among the top three. I sensed I’d my hands on the medal, at least one was confirmed,” said the 26-year-old who kept the phone on hold in order to oblige people with photographs.
The attention is humbling, but somewhere he’s aware that six months could change it all. “It (the hero worship, the hype) will subside eventually. Over a period of time, nobody will remember what I’ve done. You can’t do anything about it. This is life,” he said, a touch philosophically.
Reference to the reported rift with army was bound to crop up. “I don’t know where these stories are coming from,” he said. “I never said that I wanted to leave the army. My incentives were pending for the last four-five years. I didn’t get them for some reason. Now I’m getting what is rightfully mine. Also if you achieve something beyond your call of duty, you are eligible for decoration by the army.”
Glory in London; what next? “Two-three weeks rest and then back to practice. I’ll focus on the 2012 ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup final in Bangkok between October 22 and 28,” Vijay said, while reminding that there could be no bigger motivation than Rio 2016 and the prospect of another medal.