India’s lone individual gold medallist Abhinav Bindra continues to be a source of inspiration with Abhishek Verma crediting the history-maker to have transformed the shooting landscape of the country.

“Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal in shooting completely transformed the shooting landscape in our country,” Abhishek, who won the men’s 10 meter air pistol T2 event at the national trials, said. “It gave that confidence to many aspiring shooters like me that I too can perform well in the sport and get a medal for my country. I am working really hard towards honing my skills and giving my best shot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Abhishek is himself a two-time world cup gold medallist – winning at the Beijing and Rio de Janeiro world cups. The gold medal in Beijing helped him secure an Olympic quota for India in the men’s 10m air pistol event for the 2020 Summer Games.

In yet another step towards the grassroots development of sports in the country, Khelo India University Games will be organised in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1. Abhishek feels that such initiatives have put in place a system that will provide a competitive environment for budding athletes.

“I think this is the best thing to have happened for grassroots level sports in our country, previously there was a national university championship that used to take place but no one was aware of it. Firstly with Khelo India Youth Games and now with the Khelo India University games taking place I think we finally have a system coming in place which provides a professional competition space for all aspiring athletes of our country,” the 30-year-old said.

“The level of completion is much higher at university level championships as they are vying to bring top glory for their respective institutes. Championships like these also let you reflect on your own performance and prepare yourself better for the World University Games,” he added.

He also urged parents to encourage their kids to pursue sports as a realistic career option. “Parents play a huge role in building their children’s careers who are aspiring to pursue professional sports. With the government coming up with initiatives like the Khelo India University games, I feel it is essential for parents to understand that it shouldn’t only be about studies and a career in sports is very much a realistic thought,” he said.