How shooter Rubina Francis beat COVID-19 and other challenges to book spot for India-Sports News , Justnewsday

By | June 26, 2021

How shooter Rubina Francis beat COVID-19 and other challenges to book spot for India-Sports News , Justnewsday

It was Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s shooting academy Gun for Glory that set the path for Rubina who played in her first international only in 2017.

Tokyo Paralympics 2020: How shooter Rubina Francis beat COVID-19 and other challenges to book spot for India

Rubina Francis poses with a gun. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ChouhanShivraj

“Papa had trust that I could do it,” said Madhya Pradesh’s Rubina Francis who secured a shooting quota for India in Tokyo Paralympics 2020 by winning the gold medal in the 10m air pistol event at the World shooting Para Sport Cup in Peru this month.

In the process, she also created a new world record by shooting 238.1 points to go past the previous milestone set by Turkey’s Aysegul Pehlivanlar.

Rubina, who was born with a disability in her leg, took up the sport professionally in 2015 and she credited her success to the hard work of her parents and the support of many academies and coaches.

It was Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s shooting academy Gun for Glory that set the path for Rubina who played in her first international only in 2017.

She told Justnewsday, “I wanted to do something else besides studies in School. Gun for Glory academy came to my school to advertise shooting and I told my father I wanted to do this. So I registered myself and I got selected. That is how the interest developed. My parents backed me and that is how I took up shooting. The journey started from there. First, it was States, then pre-nationals and then nationals.”

The 22-year-old shooter from Jabalpur came to MP Shooting Academy in Bhopal in 2017 after training at Jabalpur for two years at Gun for Glory under coach Nishant Nathwani and started training under Jaspal Rana. From thereon, she did not turn back although the road was up and down and had many U-turns too which Rubina did not take.

“Sometimes, I feel depressed due to string of losses and all and you feel you cannot do that anymore. But thanks to the coaches, I get back to doing it again,” said Rubina.

After missing quota places from one qualifying event after the other, six months before the Peru World Cup, she started taking the qualifications seriously and began working hard under coaching of Subhash Rana but things were to turn worse for her.

In May 2021, she with other shooters in the probables camp, fell sick and the COVID-19 report came positive. That put the brakes on her preparation for the qualifying event.

Tokyo Paralympics 2020 How shooter Rubina Francis beat COVID19 and other challenges to book spot for India

Rubina Francis (centre) clinched gold medal in in the 10m air pistol event in World shooting Para Sport Cup in Peru in June. Special arrangement

“It (getting infected) affected our training as well. It was also mentally exhausting. At that time I felt chances were very less.”

For more than a month, Rubina did not practice live shooting but her coach Subhash Rana continued with physical and mental training, alongside dry training (without pellets).

“There was a lot of negativity. But when you have a strong base, you get overcome anything like that.”

The only practice that she and other Indian shooters could get was in Peru. And that was for a mere five days.

“We got to train for just five days in Peru. Even till the end, I did now know the quota would come along with a win and record.”

After she clinched the gold and booked a Tokyo spot for the country, the news came as a sigh of relief to her parents back home, who were worried for her as she was not well and had just recovered from COVID.

“My parents were very happy. I was not well. So they told me it is okay if I am not able to do it. But Papa had trust that I could do it. They were very happy,” said a proud Rubina.

Her father is still a motor mechanic in Jabalpur and her mother is a nurse. After the initial days of financial struggle, she was looked after by various academies, but for Rubina the mental challenges were more difficult to overcome.

“When I started my shooting journey, my parents never made me feel that this is such a costly sport. Gun for Glory also supported me. My two years went training in Jabalpur. In 2017 I came to MP Academy in Bhopal.

“Financial challenges were less. There were other mental challenges. I lost on studies as well. There was a lot of stake in between. There were many adjustments made on part of the family. They stood by me and in my hardest journey,” concluded Rubina.

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