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`CHILLY' over food

India's Olympic hero Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore takes time off from his shooting sessions to take a shot at food.



SHOOTING STAR: Ace shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore . Photo: S. Subramanium.

RAJYAVARDHAN SINGH Rathore was a nobody. Till he picked up that silver for medal-starved India at the Athens Olympics last year.

And look now!

For

this shooting star and his wife Gayatri are always in the news now. A down-to-earth celebrity and a perfect army officer!he now wrangles with time to concentrate on his shooting training.

"Well, I am trying to get used to public attention. When someone stares at me, the first thing that comes to my mind is, am I breaking any rule here?" smiles Rathore. Soaking in the lunchtime hubbub at the All American Diner at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, Rathore instantly catches the attention of many eager eyes. And, selected for the Padma Shri this year, he has a further frill to his fame.

Smiling at the waitress offering him the menu card, he quickly settles for Caesar salad and a tall glass of `spicy mango smoothie'.

"I am a salad freak. In Athens, I tried their Greek salad with feta cheese. Awesome," he relates. Though there is no nickel going to guess his nickname, Chilly Rathore says he is nonetheless no lover of chillies on food.

"But I like spicy pastas and pizzas. One cuisine that interests me clearly is Italian. They have some great salads to offer," he adds to your information.

Prawn allergy

Allergic to prawns, Rathore talks of an incident a night before he was to take part in the Asian Clay Shooting Championship in Thailand, where he almost fainted at the dining hall due to a choking feeling and puffy eyes. "Thankfully, the medical officer there could quickly make out that I was allergic to prawns, and so the medication happened at the right time. Till then, I did not know about this health secret of mine," says the man who went on to win the Double Trap gold for the country the next day despite all the trouble.

An eager giver of the kitchen front to his wife "as soon as the honeymoon was over," Rathore says, "The only thing I fry at times is an eight egg omelette in the morning to go with a special brown bread that Gayatri has procured from some city shop."

That, he adds, is his protein supplement for the sport that shot him to fame, though he maintains he does not need any special diet to keep his eyes sharper for shooting. "There are world record holders in the sport who wear spectacles. The one thing it demands is the ability to concentrate and keep your mind calm."

Always keen on sports Rathore was into cricket too. But then, fate had others things in mind, and this National Defence Academy alumnus ended up as an ace shooter.

By SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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