An Olympian who brought laurels for the country, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore AVSM is an international level shooter turned Indian Politician. Born in a Royal family of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, he was filled with the spirit of valour and shooting prowess from an early age. Rathore was commissioned in the Grenadiers regiment of the Indian Army and went on to become a colonel after which he took retirement. He focused extensively on his shooting career post retirement and went on to win a parliamentary seat for the Bharatiya Janta Party in the year 2014 following which he was appointed as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. After 3 years of serving this ministry, he was given the charge for independently managing the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Following the Family’s Footsteps
Rathore hailed from a family of Army Officers. His father, Colonel Lakshman Singh Rathore (retd) hailed from the family of the First king of Bikaner Rao Bikaji in Bikaner. Even his uncles belonged to the armed forces and the medical profession and are now holding positions of prestige in the area.
His stint in the army was illustrious indeed. Rathore started his journey in the Armed Forces from the premier institution National Defence Academy. He enrolled in the 77th course and was conferred with the Sword of Honour in the Indian Military Academy for his best all round performance as a Gentleman Cadet. Apart from this, he also received the Sikh Regiment Gold Medal, for being the best sportsman of the course.
Having served the 9th Grenadiers Mewar regiment in Kashmir and being an integral part of counter insurgency operations in the area; his regiment also received honours including the Army Chief’s Citation and the Governor of J&K’s Citation for their groundbreaking work in the strife torn region.
Hitting the Bull’s Eye!
Having a penchant for target based shooting, Rathore participated in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, and got hold of a gold medal while simultaneously setting a world record of 192 targets out of 200 which still stands unbroken. He further won another gold medal at the second installment of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in the year 2006. Rathore continued with his winning streak even in team events and many other international shooting championships in Sydney in 2004 and Cairo in 2006.
But the turning point in his career came when he clinched the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics held in Athens. This title made him India’s first ever silver medal winner at the Olympics.
Rathore continued with victories when he fetched a Bronze Medal in 2006 at the World Championship in Spain, which invited the top 12 shooters in the world for a stiff competition. His international ranking rose up from the third to the first spot after 2003 and continued to be one of the top three international shooters globally. He also broke a 40 year hiatus by winning a Silver medal at the World Championship in 2003 in Sydney for India. The last time India won silver at this championship was in 1962 when Karni Singh of Bikaner, represented the country in Cairo.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore continued to win many other medals in various world championships including the Asian Games in Doha where he clinched a Bronze and also won Gold at the Asian Clay Target Championship in Kuala Lumpur in the year 2011.
Retirement and his Stint into Politics
In the year 2014, post his retirement from the Indian Army, Rathore contested the Lok Sabha elections from Jaipur Rural Constituency and emerged victorious. He went on to become the Minister of Sports in 2017 under the BJP government.
From his early life itself, Rathore continued to be the brightest in the batch, and emerged victorious in shooting as well as his army career. Having an Ati Vishisht Seva Medal as well a Padma Shri and Khel Ratna in his kitty, Rathore now works extensively in the sports sector, inspiring young people to approach their goals with a go getter spirit and winning laurels for the country.
Quotes by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
“I know politics and politicians are hated, but I still believe in goodness of a heart that has selfless intentions. With the grace of God, I will make a difference.”
“I am confident of doing well because I am enjoying my sport again.”
“There is always anxiety before a competition and it was no different for me today. It was only in the third round, with about 40 targets left, that I realised I could match the world record score.”
“You can’t say what the outcome of a competition is going to be, so now I am ready to accept any result that comes my way, if I give my best shot.”
Written By: Aishwarya Sharma