It was well past midnight, but Manju Rathore, mother of Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore [ Images ], did not mind talking about her son's achievement. It had been a hectic evening for her and her daughter-in-law, Dr Gayatri Rathore, visiting television networks for sound bytes, and it was late by the time they returned to their home in Delhi [ Images ] Cantonment area.
The press was not the only ones waiting for them, there were also army officers carrying flowers to celebrate the occasion.
In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh, she said her son should now target the gold in the next Olympics [ Images ].
"Silver in Athens is a good performance. We are happy about it; I feel proud of my son. But now he should target gold in the next Olympics," she declared.
What was it like when you saw your son on the podium to receive the silver medal in the double trap shooting competition?
It was wonderful, I felt great. He achieved something for which had had worked day and night for the past several years. His dedication and discipline eventually paid off.
Is it true that he took to shooting by accident?
Yes, this is indeed true. He was posted in Mhow when he started shooting. But in no time he had picked up [the skill] and started shooting well. That is how he came to be the shooter you know today.
He was a good cricket player. When we were in Jabalpur he had been for the Ranji Trophy selection from Madhya Pradesh [ Images ]. He was then in 10th standard. He had to appear for the board exam so I discouraged him from playing cricket, as I felt that he should have the basic qualification. Fortunately he did not get selected there. Then he sat for the National Defence Academy exam and qualified for the army.
So joining the army is in his blood?
Naturally. His father, Col Laxman Singh Rathore, his grandfather and great grandfather were all in the Indian army [ Images ], and that too in the Grenadiers.
Did you see him winning the silver?
No, because of the cable blackout we could not see him in action. But I saw him in action in news clips when I went for interviews to some of the television studios.
One good thing was that we did not have to live through the tense moments of the finals. What is more, even if the television had been on, I would not have had the courage to see him.
His father saw it in Jaipur [ Images ] where the cable operators were not on strike. We kept ourselves abreast of the developments, particularly when he started climbing from the 5th position to the 4th, then to the third and finally to second position. People rang up to tell us about the progress that he was making.
Were you apprehensive whether or not he would be able to make it?
He had worked hard and at times the pressure was so much more on us, which forced us to think whether he would be able to get a medal or not. We knew how Abhinav Bindra [ Images ] had come close to getting a medal and how he slipped. This sort of thing happens. There was a feeling of uneasiness within.
When did you learn that he has won the silver medal?
I learnt it from my husband, and I cried. The feeling of joy crept in a little later. My hands and legs became numb. Why, I don't know. I cannot express my feelings in words. It was a moment which one can only feel.
Did you feel that your son has achieved something unique?
This is indeed a great achievement both for him as a person and our family. I have not been able to speak to him [at the time of giving this interview].
You must have drawn up a plan to receive him?
No plans as yet. Of course, we will all be there when he lands in India. His father will come down from Jaipur to be with us at the time. His sisters and other relatives will also be here. We will give him a fitting reception when he comes back, a good family get-together. Before that we have his unit raising day coming up on August 26. His commanding officer wants to celebrate and we will be there.
What did you tell him when you saw him off for Athens?
He left India on April 9. He was in Jaipur a couple of days before that and left for Delhi on April 6. I asked my son to come back with a medal. He has fulfilled my ambition. He will be returning home after a gap of five months.
Is it true you have a great influence on your son?
Being the mother I encouraged him in whatever he did. He would force me to sit with him. Though I know nothing of cricket, when he was playing I would watch him for hours. I sat because it made him feel happy. Besides cricket, I kept encouraging him.
If he was not a shooter what would he have become?
It is unthinkable because he is an army officer and he has to shoot anyway. He was a sword of honour in the NDA. He was good in almost all the games he played. His determination is good and he excels in whatever he does. He has a positive frame of mind and that is what matters.
I had expected a bronze medal but silver, frankly speaking, was a little unexpected. I am glad he got a silver, not only for himself and family but also for the country. His next target is to win the Gold medal in Olympics. I will encourage him to go for gold. He will also work hard to get it. I know his determination and he can do it.