Understanding her strong inclination towards sports, Habiba Sayyed always dreamt of being an Olympian. Even after nearly 10 years of experience with various sports, she aims to reach the Olympics. She was the first girl from Mumbai to do a drop on the ramp by skateboarding. She was even known for becoming a “sprinter” for her speed in swimming. After exploring her way through an array of sports, she decided with proceed with Air Rifle. Read our exclusive interview with Habiba Sayyed here.
How were you inspired to become a rifle shooter? Were their experiences in childhood which motivated you to do this?
I was inspired after looking at Abhinav Bindra’s photo in the newspaper with the gold medal. I went into a flashback of my days in sports and the medals I won. I used to be a good sports person in my childhood I was a good at running, jumping, discuss throw, hand ball, football(soccer), cricket,etc. If ever, I was introduced to a new sport I would master it in few sessions. In school we used to get sports forms every year for athletics. I always took the form but never got a chance to go for practice sessions after school at 4 pm. I lived in a boarding school for 10 years. I knew the sisters in school wouldn’t allow me to go for practice sessions after school because there were other girls with me and they would demand the same. I never got a chance to tell me father to pay my fees for the practice sessions as he was away from me.
In our school three days in the month of February were allotted for sports. I would be very excited, as I could get to test my sports skills against the trained athletes. Every student was allowed to take part in three games only. Mostly, I would be the runners up or second runners up. Maybe I would have come first as well had I received the coaching.
I started to learn skateboarding after I got inspired by seeing a boy with a skateboard. Growing up, I kept practising it. Later, I became the first Indian girl from Mumbai to do a drop on the Ramp in skateboarding. I was very close to breaking my ankle and jaw when I did the drop.
One fine evening in the month of Ramzaan, I decided to get back in sports because of what I had achieved in the past maybe if I try it I could do it again. So to avoid that regret in future I decided to get back in sports. I want to win Olympics for my country to represent Indian woman athletes when I win. It is also the only way to know my true potential. I don’t want to win Olympic for myself alone but also for others in a way that I can help people with my achievements. I want to promote shooting sport and help shooters who are genuinely struggling to show their talent and skill.
Can you tell us about your best experiences so far?
My best experiences are of my school days when I had won medals for long jump, running and discuss throw. Then being the first Indian woman to do the drop on the ramp in skateboard.
One of the best of them all was when I joined swimming classes. My father never allowed me to join swimming classes as he was scared that I would drown.
I decided to take it upon myself. I paid for swimming and became the first in my group to get promoted to the bigger pool. My swimming teacher started calling me a sprinter because I would overtake everyone and reach the other end first. All these small achievements have helped me to believe in myself and that keeps me positive about air rifle.
Have you confronted any discrimination so far being a woman sportsperson?
So far I haven’t confronted any discrimination for being a woman sports person.I hate the idea that women get less money compared to the opposite gender when they win. Women work hard as hard as men. The field sports is where the action is according to common people and they get to see more action when the men play. Their game is rough and full of action but when women play they don’t get to see speed as compared to men. But in sports like air rifle, the men and women play equally. Hence, it is not logical to pay women less then men in shooting games and the games which don’t involve any action or movement of the body.
Can you tell about the emerging Indian institutes for rifle shooters?
I have heard of Pune gun for glory shooting range as the best one right now. I’ve got good feedback of their shooting range from friends. They have new advanced setup of target system similar to the Olympic setup. Then there is Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, New Delhi.
Royal Sports Shooting Academy, Bengaluru
They help students providing them with weapons for state and national level games. Which is a good thing because I am myself struggling to collect money for my own air rifle gun. So that I can maximize my chances of winning. The guns are quiet costly starting from 1.5 lac to 2.5 lacs. I started editing again so that I could afford to buy my own uniform, shoes, gloves, stand, especially targets and pellets.
Maharashtra Rifle Association, Mumbai
I’ve been the member of this association for more than a year. They help me out when I need help in my practice sessions. I hope they will help me in my jouney to fulfill my dream and become a world class Olympian.
Did you have any mentors in your journey?
Yes I do have a mentor and that is ALLAH, then my father he is encouraging sometimes. My friends keep encouraging me to keep moving ahead to pursue this sport as well.
You work as a film maker as well. Can you tell us about your work?
I’ve been a film editor for the last three years. I love editing TVC’s and I wish to edit more good family social message films. The editing work is hectic sometimes and it requires all of my time. So when I have to get back to my training I take less projects because after all my dream is to be a Olympian someone like never before.