Ayonika Paul is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the wing of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds to compete with her international counterparts. Learn more about the ace shooter in this in-depth interview.
Ayonika Paul is a young and talented 22-year-old rifle shooter who has represented India in many international tournaments. She made her mark globally in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich.
A complete all-rounder, Paul is also studying engineering in Bombay and is equally committed to sports and academics. She has won several medals in the Juniors category over the years and today she is a serious threat in the Seniors league with her consistently excellent performance. With her fierce dedication and determination, you can trust this woman to shoot a bullet right through the competition.
In this exclusive interview with Ketto, Paul speaks to us about her journey, how she balances her time between sports and academics and what she requires to make India proud at the next Commonwealth Games.
How were you introduced to this sport?
Summer holidays for me were about lazing around and also exploring different sports and arts. I indulged in many different sports like basketball, water-polo, skating and dancing, whereas swimming was a regular activity. However, when I heard about shooting I was thrilled because guns had always fascinated me. In my first inter-school competition, I scored 144 in open sight, and over time, the sport took me over. I couldn’t get enough and wanted to shoot regularly.
You are only 22 and you have achieved so much. How do you balance studies and play?
I have a good sense of time. Since I was a child, my mother would tell me that I need to first complete my studies and only then would I be allowed to go for my training. Even now that discipline works for me. Whenever I study, I am fully focused and the same applies to shooting. I carry my books during all my tournaments. I believe in quality over quantity and enjoy whatever I do each moment.
Walk us through your training regimen.
4 AM: Wake up
4.15 AM-7 AM: Study
7 AM: Breakfast
7 AM-9 AM: Nap
9.15 AM: Yoga
10 AM-1 PM: Training
1.15 PM: Lunch and Rest
2.30 PM-4 PM: Training
6 PM-7.30 PM: Swimming or Gymming and Stretching
8.30 PM: Dinner
10 PM: Sleep
How many hours a day do you practice?
Four and a half to five hours a day.
What are the costs associated with your training?
My shooting jacket and trousers cost approximately Rs. 70,000. Shooting shoes cost Rs. 18,000. Weapons are Rs.1,70,000. I also incur additional costs for physiotherapists and sports psychologists.
How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?
The past world champions and record holders are now into coaching and sharing their ideas and experiences. There is a path that they have found and they’re open to new ideas and experiments. They know how and when to peak. There is research and development on sports science, which is yet to be developed in India.
How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?
Individual sport is still not a recognized area. It is motivating for all athletes around the world to learn that our Olympic dreams are being supported by a number of people in our country. It boosts my confidence to train harder as I can go abroad for a longer training period and play more matches and leagues, thus taking me closer to the six coveted grams of gold.
Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.
Whenever I wanted something in shooting, I asked my parents. But I realised that training under the best coaches and mental training would be too expensive. Even though I felt the need, I couldn’t ask them to fund it. OGQ has given me this opportunity. I have to walk this path to reach my destination and OGQ is the light to guide me along this journey. They have provided me with a sports psychologist and world-class physiotherapist, which is essential for me.
What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?
Good planning, research and development and strong belief in our athletes.