Not unlike many children her age, Mehuli Ghosh was particularly fond of the popular Hindi detective show “CID”. The show was also her first introduction to the world of shooting. "I was 12 then and I so liked the actors with guns in hand. I wanted to try my hands at it,” Ghosh says.
It was only a curiosity at first. However, only five years later, Ghosh has come a long way. Now only 17, Ghosh makes her debut in Commonwealth Games at Gold coast, where she be carrying expectations of the entire nation.
The shooter, who will compete in 10m Air Rifle category at the CWG, is expected to do just that, not least because of the form she is in. She won an incredible eight gold medals at the 61st National Shooting Championship Competitions in New Delhi in December last year and then clinched two bronze medals at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico.
But while Ghosh is goes to Australia as a serious medal contender, this wasn’t always the case. After being inspired by her TV hero’s, Ghosh didn’t have it as easy in real life. Ghosh, who hails from Baidyabati, a small town around 30 km from Kolkata, had to convince her parents of modest means to invest money. At the age of 13, her father, who worked as a temporary employee with the West Bengal government, saved money to enroll her in Serampore Rifle Club.
Her journey was only just beginning. Just a year later after joining the club, she was suspended after one of her pellets went on to hit a spectator.
The trauma of the incident was too much for the 14-year-old to bear, who went into depression. The transformation from a depressed girl to a confident world beater started when Mitali Ghosh, After first taking her to psychological counselling, Mehuli’s mother, took her to Joydeep Karmakar, who was getting his own coaching career underway.
Karmakar, who had missed a medal in London 2012 by a whisker, had spent a year and more in depression all but ending his career as an athlete in the process. The challenging of handling the talented 14-year-old Mehuli would give him new purpose.
Karmakar’s shooting academy in Rajarhat, Kolkata was 40km away from her home. “Was she willing to undertake the commute of over four hours every single day to come and train?,” wondered Karmakar. Ghosh was more than willing. Glad at being offered a second chance and made the long journey each day without fail. She still has to take the local train followed by bus and then auto to reach the academy every morning from Baidyabati,” Karmakar adds.
And while it’s true that Ghosh didn’t always have the means to buy herself expensive equipment and once used borrowed ammunition to shoot, nothing could hold her down.
Her hardwork bore fruits as she went on to win two medals in the Nationals in 2016, and then won eight medals in 2017. Her first international medal came in Japan when she won a gold in the youth category of the Asian Airgun Championships in Japan.
Her form has continued this year too. And if as is expected, Ghosh lives up to her potential in Gold Coast, the girl who was introduced to the sport through a popular TV series, might find some of that TV popularity coming her way too.