Neeraj Chopra a huge inspiration for me: Arjun Babuta

Backed by Abhinav Bindra and inspired by his college senior Neeraj Chopra, young shooter Arjun Babuta is looking to “deliver” a strong performance at the World Championship and secure an Olympic quota.

The 23-year-old has played a pivotal role in India’s impressive show at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Changwon, Korea, having claimed two gold for the country.

“Neeraj Chopra and I studied at the same college in Chandigarh, although he was a batch senior than me. But what he achieved at the Olympic Games in 2020 was a huge motivating factor for athletes like me and he is indeed a huge inspiration,” Arjun said to media

“Sport is very difficult for young athletes who go through the grind every single day. But Neeraj’s historic feat has lifted an entire generation of young athletes, including me, who are hungrier than ever to win something for India in the grandest stage,” he added.

Babuta’s double gold-winning feat at the World Cup will, in all likelihood, earn him a place in the Indian side for the upcoming World Championships in Cairo.

He said that qualifying for the Paris Olympic Games is his biggest “goal in life” right now.

“I was 19 when I missed the Tokyo Olympics qualifying event in 2019. The pain and agony was excruciating, but I practised round-the-clock to ensure that I win medal at the World Cup,” Arjun said.

“The prime focus, right now, is to deliver a top performance at the World Championships and qualify for the Paris Olympics,” he added.

The 23-year-old Punjab man said he grew up hearing stories about Abhinav Bindra’s historic gold medal-winning feat at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when he became the first Indian to win an individual yellow metal at the Games.

“His achievements moulded me as a shooter. A towering personality like him who changed Indian sports in 2008, taught me so many things about life and sport,” Arjun remarked.

In his formative years, Arjun was trained by the renowned Lt Col JS Dhillon (retd), who coached Bindra, too, as a rookie in 1995.

“Dhillon Sir’s coaching lessons have taken me where I am today. He told me back long back that I can become the next Abhinav Bindra if I perform consistently and also gifted me his shooting equipments,” Arjun said.

Arjun said the inclusion of the legendary Austrian Thomas Farnik as the chief foreign rifle coach was extremely timely, and the former helped him to fine-tune his game in a big way.

“Thomas sir (Farnik) has had a huge positive impact in my performances at this World Cup. His love for the game, the role he plays as a mentor, is simply outstanding,” Arjun said.

“The roles played by Joydeep sir (Karmakar) and Suma (Shirur) have been amazing too,” he said.

Arjun said that while his life has changed as an athlete after winning his first ever gold medals for India, but he would look to continue working hard to realise bigger dreams.

“It feels like a dream but the journey has just begun for me. I want to continue working hard and achieve far bigger dreams to make my country proud,” Arjun said.

“I would like to dedicate this win to my parents back home.