Kolhapur rejoiced on Sunday after Tejaswini Sawant’s historic achievement in Munich. The 29-year-old, who lost her father six months back, has gone on to become the first Indian woman to clinch a gold medal in the world shooting championship.
Tejaswini won gold in the 50-metre rifle prone and scored 597 out of a possible 600 points, thereby equalling the world record set by Russian Marina Bobkova in 1998. “We are really proud of her. If her father had been alive, the happiness would have been much more,” remarked Sunita, Tejaswini’s mother. As a matter of fact, Sunita played cricket and volleyball during her college days.
Tejaswini was in Delhi when her father Ravindra, a retired electric engineer from Indian Navy, passed away on February 23 this year due to a liver-related ailment.
Tejaswini’s younger sisters, Anuradha Pitre and Vijaymala Gavail, are both married. “Tejaswini was very attached to our father. After his death, she was worried about our mother,” said Anuradha.
Anuradha recalled the grand celebrations when Tejaswini had won gold medals in the 10-metre air rifle singles and 10-metre air rifle pairs at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.
“Teju won the gold just two days before Rangoli. Our entire family had celebrated the festival,” Anuradha recalled.
Tejaswini’s parents had to tackle many a problem to help their daughter realise her dream of becoming an ace shooter. The family was living in a rented home, first in Rajarampuri and then in Varshanagar. After her exploits in Melbourne, the state government allotted Tejaswini a plot of five guntha (40 gunthas make an acre) near Rajendra Nagar. The family built a bungalow and Tejaswini and her mother are put up there.
Tejaswini was also appointed as officer on special duty (OSD) in the sports department. “I am proud to be her mother. She is a world champion and has done India proud,” Sunita said.
Sawant, who has been taking part in shooting events since 2000, has worked really hard. “Yoga has always been part of her routine,” her mother said. Sawant has bagged a total of 75 medals, out of which 25 have come at the international level.
“We have had to face a lot of financial problems. However, the people of Kolhapur, philanthropists and various institutes here supported us. We are very grateful to all of them,” Sunita said.