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Know Your Heroes | Anjum Moudgil - A painter on the path of shooting greatness

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Know Your Heroes | Anjum Moudgil - A painter on the path of shooting greatness

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Bastab K Parida


Anjum Moudgil hasn’t heard about Jack Russell nor does she know about the magnificent persona of Clarrie Grimmett. She doesn’t know what do the two personalities have in common with her but, what she does know is that painting keeps her fresh and act as a distraction management tool.

Grimmett was not only a brilliant leg-spinner in his own right, he was also a magnificent painter blessed with immaculate ability to sketch profiles on the back of a brown paper bag. Russell, the former England wicketkeeper, quite like Grimmett, has been a fine impressionist and portrait painter. The two fine sportsmen, always ready to showcase their worth on the cricket field, excelled in a field that hardly belonged to them. While one passion soared over another, the other went on side by side. 

For Anjum, the story is no different. At the age of 24, she already has added a lot of feathers to her hat. She is an international rifle shooter, a World Cup silver medalist, a fine painter, and a student of sports psychology, which makes for a fascinating story of hard work, determination and most importantly, an impressive human who can effectively balance the acts of life. The Silver medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and at the 2018 ISSF World Cup in Mexico uses painting as a distraction from the everyday activities of sports. 

“Painting is not a compulsion, right? So, it's not like I have to. It is just that when I'm out for a competition or something, I really feel that there should be a change. It's not that I keep shooting for a month or so. So, whenever I'm back, I think of something or see something or ask someone, I just paint. I challenge myself in painting to make something, I think will be difficult for me. That way it really really helps me in shooting, to get back with a fresh mind and really motivated enough to challenge myself there as well,” Moudgil told SportsCafe over the phone.

Drawing the parallel back to Russell again, it was England’s 1987 tour to Pakistan that changed his painting career for good. He got a lot of material for painting in Peshawar and sold around 40 sketches in just over two days. The love for art in the South Asian nations like India and Pakistan pursued him to come back to the nation two years later in which he sold 30 oil paintings in just a day. Anjum knows that carrying stuff with her to various venues to paint is a difficult thing to handle, and rather tries to get the canvas and colour from the hosting city itself. She has a dedicated Instagram account for her paintings - some oil and some canvas paintings.  

“With travelling, I can't really carry a lot of stuff or go to a country and buy paints there. There are many changes and many things which are unique which I feel like converting into a painting, it really helps balance the stress of the shooting. So, that way it is really good that I am able to paint.

“Whenever I have a bad day at Shooting or a bad day at match, I just concentrate on painting so, I don't get negative thoughts about the bad day or any pressure or anxiety about the next day of the tournament. I think shooting always requires a fresh mind to cope up with any challenge, so painting compliments shooting a lot in that way. Shooting helps my painting in a way that I can focus for two three hours at a stretch. The point is that I love doing both the things, so it becomes quite easy for me to switch from one to another.”

While painting is something that Anjum enjoys the most, shooting has always been at the top of her priority - a sport that fascinated her after her mother introduced her to National Cadet Corps in her school. The rigorous and equally fun camps organised by NCC made a lasting impression on Anjum’s mind to take up shooting professionally and the rest is history.

“When I was a kid, I mean not even a kid, I was 14. I had absolutely no idea about shooting, sports, Olympics and all. I did not know anything about it. My mom actually introduced me to Shooting, because she herself did shooting in NCC when she was young. Then she made me join NCC. I was in eight standard

“So, in that we do Parade, Shooting and different sports and I had an interest of knowing about weapons and shoot bullets and doing parade was much more interesting. I was excited to know about weapons, then there were all the competitions for which we went from NCC. So, that was how I got into Shooting. But, I had never thought that I would go ahead and play for India. Then I had bigger dreams of playing for India and having my Indian jersey like that. After coming into Shooting, I came to know about sports or I never had so much knowledge. It's just that before doing Shooting in 2008, I went for throwball nationals in 2007. Apart from that I never played a game that seriously.”

“There was never a problem when I was going for competitions regularly. So, my grandparents said that I should concentrate on Shooting and on studies and she should not travel that much. Then, my mom was like she will be able to cover it. She had that believe in me that I will cover my syllabus and go to the school and all. So, I think that the initial support of my parents, my father, and my mother was really really motivating for me to good in studies as well as Shooting. So, over the time when everything went well in both of it, everyone in the family was really supportive, now that I was able to do the study part also. So, they never demoralized or felt sad when I did not win a medal. It was really good for me that they were even supporting me even when I lose. So, yeah I have their support in all these years.”

 © Getty

Anjum, who started her career with pistol shooting, soon converted her focus to rifle events and is now equally adept at 10m Air Rifle, 50m Prone, and 50m 3-position. Keeping the focus on all three and being successful in them was indeed a tough thing for anyone in the sport, but Anjum’s a heart of steel and doesn’t shy away. After a struggling junior career, she made a mark in the senior level by winning two gold medals in the 2016 SAFF Games and also won a 10m Air Rifle silver and 50m prone bronze in the Commonwealth Shooting Championship. It was the start of something special or rather something beautiful for the girl from Chandigarh. 

Banking on the success of the Commonwealth Shooting Championship, Anjum went on to win a silver medal at the 2018 ISSF World Cup in Mexico and then made the nation proud again by winning a silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. And for Anjum, both the medals came on the back of a lot of hard work and never-say-die attitude, but the sheer joy of making a record (She secured the Qualification Games record in the Women's 50m Rifle 3 Pos. Qualification) in her first Games appearance made her Gold Coast stay more memorable.

“Both of them had a different influence. In the Mexico World Cup, the best thing was, it was the first competition after the rule changed for us that we had to shoot in 120 shots, right? So, Mexico, I could shoot really well, that was a really really good score to what women were shooting at that time. With the 120 shots to play, I really liked Mexico. 

Commonwealth Games was much more important to me because it was my first games and I always wanted to have a record.

Anjum Moudgil

“Commonwealth Games was much more important to me because it was my first games and I always wanted to have a record. Then, I was actually able to achieve Commonwealth Games record, I think that was much more satisfying to me than a medal. 

“So, when I was playing in the Munich World Cup, more than winning a medal, I was focused on doing my personal best in shooting and making a record. The record was 118 and I made equal to the world record, so that was really really nice for me and motivating. But, I knew I could beat the world record any time I want so that was very much motivating. But, I did not win the event because I was sick, but I was happy to achieve what I wanted. So, that was really a good moment for me in April, 2018,” Anjum said with a sense of pride and achievement. 


This year so far has proved to be an excellent year for Anjum and if her success at the two World events are anything to go by, she will be in a much better stead in the upcoming Asian Games. 

“It's my first Asian Games, so I would love to have experience of the games, but also I have changed some equipment and all, really tried to keep my focus on technique and not getting distracted with everything out there, the games or anything else. I'll just keep my focus on technique and not think about scores and medals and all, because I would really like to be of my best technique because people are able to good in the world championships, that is immediately after the Asian Games. So, yeah my main focus would be on my technique and myself. Not doing any mistake when I'm standing there. Everything else can come later, the medals, the scores. It's my main target right now.”

The target, backed with the commitment, can lead anyone to success, and for Anjum, she has already seen the high and an Asian Games medal will add to her already overflowing cabinet.

 © SportsCafe

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