Achievements

Selena Gomez’s music helps me calm my mind before my rifle-shooting matches

Afrah, the 15-year-old rifle shooter from Apeejay Kharghar, says the country must respect all athletes, irrespective of whether they win medals or not

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Scoring an impressive 383/400 score in rifle-shooting at the 8th West Zone Rifle Shooting Championship held recently at Ahmedabad, Afrah Jawad Khatib, a class 10 student at Apeejay School, Kharghar in Mumbai qualified for Nationals. She would soon be representing her state, Maharashtra by the end of the year.

How did you start rifle-shooting?
Then, my father advised me to start rifle shooting and I shortly began training for it. I practiced at a range in Panvel, Navi Mumbai. However, the range was open in shifts throughout the pandemic. It did affect my practice a lot, so we had to make arrangements at home so that I could prepare for aiming at targets.

What does your daily schedule look like?
I finish my regular classes at school till 2 pm and then head for my rifle shooting practice which lasts about 4 hours every day. Since I am currently on a break from other sports such as handball and skating, I can spend more time shooting. I come home by 6 pm and have tuitions till 10 pm, post which I call a day.

You would soon be playing Nationals. How do you feel?
I am happy but I can also feel the pressure. There might be several players in every corner of India who are working harder than me. Nonetheless, I am determined to put my best foot forward since rifle-shooting is a sport wherein one competes with one’s own self, not with others. 

What are your interests apart from sports?
I love reading, drawing, and listening to music. Before my matches, I listen to singers such as Selena Gomez, Alek Benjamin, and Justin Bieber. Their music helps me calm down.

Which are the players who inspire you?
Rifle shooter Apurvi Sandila who competed in Tokyo Olympics 2020 inspires me. I look up to other pistol shooters such as Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary as well.

What principles do you swear by in your sports journey?
Focus and hard work. I feel that there was a lot of expectation from rifle shooters at Tokyo Olympics 2020, and all other players were either World Number 1 or 2. I was happy to see our country at the Olympics since I also envision being there by 2028. During the Olympics, I closely followed and read several news articles realising how Indian players may have been impacted due to Covid-19.

I wish to express that no one knows what goes behind a player’s preparations and how hard they have worked. Today, every citizen knows Neeraj Chopra’s name but what about other players? The country should not be disappointed with players who didn’t win. One thing I want to imbibe from all these players is the spirit of not giving up.

What has been your school’s contribution?
My school has been very supportive. They have always made arrangements to accommodate me throughout my sports competitions which many times clashed with school examinations. With this, my parents have been strong pillars of support for me, and my coach, Smita Kamle has helped me build a lot of focus.

What would be your tips for aspiring players?
I want to highlight that it is important to not think about winning medals. A sportsperson should first focus on practicing, more than anything else.

“Rifle-shooting is a sport wherein one competes with one’s own self, not with others”

-Afrah Jawad Khatib, Apeejay, Khrghar Student

Mrini Devnani is Senior Correspondent (Newsroom). She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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