Zeena Khitta stunned some of the top shooters from the country and snatched gold in the 10m air rifle event at the Khelo India Youth Games. The 18-year-old scored an impressive 251.3 in Guwahati on Tuesday, while Punjab’s Jasmeen Kaur and Sift Kaur bagged the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Zeena continues her excellent performance from the Nationals where she defeated star shooters Mehuli Ghosh and Apurvi Chandela.

Key Takeaways:

  • Himachal Pradesh’s Zeena Khitta won gold in the 10m air rifle event at the Khelo India Youth Games with a score of 251.3 on Tuesday.
  • Punjab’s Jasmeen Kaur and Sift Kaur bagged the silver and bronze medals respectively.
  • The 18-year-old has plans to secure a place for herself in the Indian Olympic shooting team this year.

“I am feeling great. I am very proud of myself. Everything is going right for me at the moment. The training, hard work, everything is falling into place. We have trials for the Indian team this month. I will be focussing on that now,” said Khitta, kheloindia.gov.in reported.

“I just started shooting by chance. Since my school in Rohru had a shooting facility, I was regular at the range.”

“My biggest dream is to become the first Indian woman to win a gold in the Olympics. For this year, I am aiming to participate in the senior ISSF World Cups and win golds in those tournaments. I have played only Junior World Cups so far. I will be trying to book a berth in the Indian Olympic shooting team this year,” said the shooter.

Emerging sporting icon

Zeena was 14 years old when she decided to pursue air rifle shooting. “I just started shooting by chance. Since my school in Rohru had a shooting facility, I was regular at the range,” Zeena, who is a first-year college student from Rohru,  said. Unable to buy her own equipment, Zeena was trained with a weapon provided by her school during her first year of shooting. Finally, in 2015, she purchased her own equipment and has been a regular member of the national squad in the age group category.

Zeena has defeated Anjum and Apurvi who became the first set of Indian shooters to secure places for the 2020 Olympics.

So far, she has competed in several national and international level shooting competitions and has won gold medals in All India Shooting Championship and North Zone Shooting Championship. She has been practising for the last couple of years in the Aradhana Shooting Club’s range. She draws inspiration from her mentor and coach of the club, Virender Singh Banshtu and her father Prithvi Raj Khitta.

Zeena’s father Prithvi Raj Khitta is an apple farmer in Rohru, in Himachal Pradesh. Zeena claims that she came to know more about rifles from her grandfather who used it to keep wild animals away from their apple orchards to prevent damage. A discovery of national shooter Banshtu, a young Zeena took up shooting in 2015 and won her first national medal, a bronze, at the junior event in Thiruvananthapuram in 2017. And she has not looked back since.

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Zeena had also won the team gold at the Junior World Cup at Sydney in March. Last year, she won gold in Women’s 10m Air Rifle at the 1st Khelo India School Games held in New Delhi.

In 2017, Zeena became the first female player to become part of the national shooting team of India in 10-meter air rifle category.

What next?

“My next aim is the India shooting team trials. I really want to go for an international tournament this year. And I have my 12th boards as well. So, hopefully, the exams go well. I want to be well-settled in life before going for an Olympic medal,” signed off the shooter.

Congratulations to Zeena for putting up excellent performances on the circuit consistently.

Feature image credit: kheloindia.gov.in

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