Chain Singh, the shooter from Jammu and Kashmir has sealed his place for the upcoming Rio Olympics 2016. Singh is the 12th rifleman to book his berth for Rio and he cemented his place in the 50m rifle 3 position event at the ISSF World Cup in Gabala , Azerbaijan, last August.
Born and brought up at Assar in Doda district, Chain grew up in a time when terrorism was at its peak in the valley. At a very young age, the Olympic-bound athlete saw militants crossing into his village and prayed hard that he did not have to cross paths with them. The irony is, as a kid, Chain used to fear guns for their destructive nature.
Reminiscing his childhood, Chain said; “I was eight when I had the first glimpse of terrorists. They used to travel through our village. All dressed up in black clothes with huge rifles and automatic guns in their hands, they looked intimidating. But we always had prior information as we tracked the news on our transistor. It was depressing stuff to listen to stories about terrorists killing X-number of people, slitting the throats or cutting the hands off others. I feared them.”
Singh first holds a gun when he was at the age of 15 and from that moment on his affection towards shooting began. The Bronze medal winner of the Incheon Asiad said in his own words, “In the 90s, militancy was at its peak. There was something called a Village Defence Committee that provided a rifle to my family to defend ourselves from the militants, who could have taken us hostage or could have sought refuge in our homes. That was the first time I touched a gun.”
The 27-year old shooter joined the Indian Army in the year 2007 and since then there was no looking for the Kashmir boy. “I was very interested in joining the Army as all my friends were joining the armed forces. In 2008, I began shooting in the junior category and two years later graduated to the senior category.”
The son of a Maize farmer, Chain Singh bagged six gold medals at the South Asian Games held this February and even zoomed past the likes Gagan Narang, the Bronze Medal winner of the 2012 London Games in the 50m rifle 3 positions.
So by his superb performances at the international stages on a regular basis, Chain has raised the hope to stand on the podium at Rio. “Performing like that in the Olympic year boosts your self-confidence.”
Though Singh is the only Olympian and only Asiad medallist from his native state, J&K, his amazing achievements have not been recognized by the State Government, yet. When he was asked about this matter, the ace shooter told that he took this negligence as added motivation. “I don’t understand politics. I am the first Olympian, and first Asiad medallist from J & K but the government hasn’t recognised my achievements. I met Mufti Mohd Sayeed once and even his daughter (current Chief Minister) Mehbooba. They promised me that they would do something to improve sports facilities in the state, but, they just got their pictures clicked with me and did nothing after that. No politician supported me financially even when I needed it. Thankfully, the central government began the TOP scheme and I am part of it. Maybe, they will be forced to recognize my accomplishments once I win a medal in Rio.”
Singh will fly to Moscow in June along with other two compatriots in this category, Apurvi Chandela and Gagan Narang, for a 20-day training camp before taking part in the ISSF World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.