New Delhi: She has a penchant for shooting high scores in a crisis situation and history-creating pistol shooter Heena Sidhu, who has just won a gold medal in the World Cup finals in Munich, is now bracing up for next year`s World Championships where she wants to attain "peak" form.
The 24-year-old unassuming girl from Patiala became the first Indian pistol shooter to clinch a gold at ISSF World Championship. Sidhu, who scored 384/400, was at the third position after completing the qualification stage and outperformed other top names in the finals.
"Before shooting the last shot, I knew I was very close. I just shot it and the last shot was sort of my signature, it was bigger than the medal," Sidhu said on Wednesday.
"I conserved a little energy in the qualification. I shot two 8s initially and was not very happy. But I know my potential and I knew I can still make up. You just have to shoot to get into the finals."
Next year will be crucial for the shooters as the World Championships, Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games are lined up one after another.
"The challenge next year is that three big matches are lined up in a span of three months. CWG, I will just do my average thing, I wish to peak in the World Championships," Sidhu said.
"We hope to bring back medals, bring back quota places for Olympics."
The Indian shooter said she has worked on improving the qualification.
"I was shooting well in the finals, it has always been good. Till 2012, I was lagging in qualification, I concentrated on that and ended up neglecting the finals. I have worked very hard just like I was before the London Olympics," Sidhu said.
"Earlier, my idea before entering the finals was to be very aggressive, but I have realised it is not possible to sustain that aggression for 20 shots."
Sidhu, who has taken a break from studies after completing her graduation in medicine, had a problem regarding renewal of her visa prior to flying out to Munich.
"On the 1st (November) I came to know, my visa was expiring on the 10th, the day of my event. They gave me the passport without visa and I went to the immigration office after landing in Munich and got my visa extended by 2 days. I left for Germany on the 6th," Sidhu said.
Heena said she wept after hearing the news of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar`s retirement.
"I cried twice after hearing of his retirement. As an athlete I could relate to his experiences, his achievements."
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) Raninder Singh called Heena`s effort the "highest possible achievement".
"As a shooting body, it is higher than an Olympic medal. This is the highest possible achievement in the shooting world," Raninder said.
Anjali Bhagwat, Gagan Narang and Ronjan Sodhi are the only other shooters to have won a gold medal at ISSF World Cup finals and the NRAI chief seemed pleased.
"The kind of support we have been receiving form SAI, sports ministry and training under foreign coaches and also Indian coaches, I must thank them.
"Liberalisation by government that allows shooters to train more, (also played a role in pistol shooters doing well off late). And number three, every athlete`s life has a peaking period."
"Pistol shooting has received tremendous support in the past few months. This is purely the culmination of hard work. It reinforces NRAI`s vision, effort, opportunity to hone their competitive edge.
Currently, Heena`s world ranking is 9th and her Asian ranking is 6th.