Fifteen years ago, when ace shooter Tejaswini Sawant, then not so well-known, was in urgent need of funds to participate in a shooting world championship in Germany, the then Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar became her ray of hope.
The support not only enabled the shooter from Kolhapur in Maharashtra to participate in the competition in 2005, but also became a turning point in her career as she scaled new heights thereafter, Sawant told PTI.
Her only regret now is that she could not thank the chief minister enough for his generosity which made a big contribution in her life and shooting career.
“It was a brief meeting with Parrikar along with family friend and senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil. I told Parrikar about the amount I required for the tournament. He promptly signed a cheque for the same,” the ace shooter said.
“The amount was around Rs 1 lakh and it was the most needed help for me that changed my entire career,” she said.
It helped Sawant move ahead as she scored 397 and 396 points out of 400, comfortably securing a place among the mainstream shooters to represent India in future international tournaments.
She later became the first Indian woman shooter to win a gold medal at the World Championships, with a world-record equalling score in the 50m rifle prone event in 2010 in Germany. After 2006, Sawant has won several gold and other medals in international championships.
“I could do it only because of two people. First, Manohar Parrikar for his trust and financial support, and then Chandrakant Patil, who took my case to Parrikar,” she said.
She said after the early success in her career, she received offers for a job in the Goa government and financial help for travel and training expenses till she wanted to play.
Sawant is now an officer in Maharashtra government.
“I regret that I could never thank Parrikar properly for his contribution in my life and career,” the shooter said while expressing grief over his demise.
When contacted, Patil, Maharashtra’s revenue minister, said he shared close ties with Parrikar. He said when Sawant approached him, Parrikar’s name came to his mind and he called him.
“He was like that [generous]. In case of Tejaswini, Parrikar helped her in his own capacity. He didn’t use government money [to give her]. He spent from his pocket but never brought up the issue in our subsequent conversations,” Patil recalled.