Just eight years ago, a teen-aged Jitu Rai was growing paddy, potatoes and corn on his family farm in a tiny village in eastern Nepal. And on Saturday he was standing on top of the podium, receiving India’s first gold medal of the 2014 Asian Games. As the medal hung from his neck, Rai, who was an image of calm in his pursuit of the 50m air pistol gold, showed first signs of emotion. It was a mixture of relief and joy, and vindication. Rai had given up his country of birth and left his family behind to pursue an Army career in India. This moment of victory seemed to have made his long journey worth it.
Life & Times
His early life was spent in a village of Sankhuwa Sabha district of Nepal. He is the fourth brother among five siblings. He is a Naib Subedar in the 11 Gorkha Rifles of Indian Army. Rai was born and grew up in Nepal, migrated to India and joined the Army in 2006. Now-a-day he is an Indian citizen as he possesses an Indian passport. He also has a certificate of participation in the 2011 National Games where he represented Uttar Pradesh. Rai first made it to the Army’s shooting squad in 2010-11 but failed to live up to expectations and was subsequently sent back to his unit, putting an end to his training at the AMU in Mhow.
He was called back last year after some impressive performances in the domestic circuit. In his first major international year, he has returned with a medal in every competition he has entered. Since June, he has won gold medals at World Cup, Commonwealth Games and World Championship. Because of this stunning streak, Rai’s reputation is growing on the world shooting circuit.