Daughters of a fisherman, dry cleaner and a royal teamed up to win a silver medal in the Trap-50 women’s team event at the Asian Games 2023
Manisha Keer, the daughter of a fisherman, Preeti Rajak, the daughter of a dry cleaner and Rajeshwari Kumari, a descendant of the Patiala royal family; came together in Hangzhou to win India’s first-ever medal in the trap-50 women’s team event on Sunday. This was India’s 40th medal in this year’s Asian Games.
The trio won a silver medal with a total of 337 points and were outscored by China, whose team won the gold medal and scored a world record with 357 points. Kazakhstan won the bronze medal with 336 points. Manisha Keer had also qualified for the individual women’s trap event, wherein she finished sixth.
Background: What is trap shooting
Trap shooting is a shooting sport in which participants shoot at moving clay targets using a shotgun. The clay targets are called “pigeons” or “birds”; owing to the times when live pigeon competitions took place.
Get to know the Asian Games medalists
The 24-year-old shooter belongs to Bhopal’s fishing community. Starting from an early age, Keer understood the value of money and assisted her father with fishing.
Today, Keer has won several medals at some of the most prestigious international competitions, like world championships, Asian championships and the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Junior World Championship. But did you know her journey to shooting was purely accidental?
Keer was visiting the MP shooting academy with her elder sister, when Indian shooting legend Mansher Singh saw her standing in a corner during shotgun trials and asked her to shoot. Keer unexpectedly hit the target with ease.
Mansher has been on a mission to make the sport more accessible to the lesser-privileged and decided to offer Keer an opportunity to pursue the sport seriously, given her natural talent.
Today, Manisha Keer is identified as one of India’s finest women shotgun shooters. In 2018, she set the junior record in women’s trap with a score of 41 at the ISSF World Championship in South Korea.
Preeti Rajak, at 20-years-old, is the youngest of the trio. Her mother, Jyotsna Rajak, works for an NGO while her father runs a dry-cleaning shop in Itarsi.
A mother of three daughters, Jyotsna was worried about her daughter’s futures when they had to be shifted from private schools to government schools due to financial constraints. In the year 2015, the MP academy revealed that it prepares children for sports. She took two of her three daughters to the academy and both of them were selected. Preeti was only 15 when she entered the academy.
Today, the elder daughter, Shefali is a coach at the academy while Preeti plays for India at an international level.
Preeti’s coaches at the MP academy stated that she is a “hard worker” and a “brilliant shooter”, in an interview with Times of India. “She has a bright future”, coach Indrajeet added.
31-year-old Rajeshwari was born into a family of athletes and shooters. Her great-great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, uncle and father have all been part of the family’s shooting legacy.
Her father, Randhir Singh, represented India at five consecutive Olympics between the years 1968 to 1984. Randhir’s uncle, Yadavindra Singh, was the last Maharaja of Patiala.
Kumari did not “like the sound of the cartridges initially” as she “never liked loud sounds”, Randhir stated. However, she later decided to pick up the sport and today she works “much harder than [he] did”, her father added.
As the Olympic Council of Asian (OCA) acting-president, Randhir awarded the silver medal to his daughter. It was a surreal moment of history repeating itself as in the 1982 Asian Games, Randhir’s father, Raja Bhalendra Singh, had awarded him his gold medal as the OCA president. Randhir stated that it was “a really proud moment” for him.
India’s other wins at the Asian Games on the same day
Apart from from the silver medal in women’s trap team, India’s Aditi Ashoka won a silver medal in golf at the Asian Games 2023. The country’s men’s trap team also won a gold medal, with Kynan Chenai securing a bronze in the individual trap event.
A total of three medals were won by India at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre on Sunday.