Anjali Bhagwat (born 5 December 1969) is a professional Indian shooter. She became the World Number One in 10m Air Rifle in 2002. She also won her first World Cup Final in Milan, in 2003, with a score of 399/400.
Anjali won the ISSF Champion of Champions award and is the only Indian to win the ISSF Champions’ Trophy in Air Rifle Men & Women mixed event at Munich in 2002. She has represented India in three consecutive Olympics, and was a finalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, again a first for any Indian women shooter. She has won 12 gold and 4 silver medals in the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Shooting Championships. She is a Commonwealth record holder in 10m Air Rifle and Sports Rifle 3P. In the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, Bhagwat created history by becoming the first Indian woman shooter to get gold and a silver medal in the Sports 3P and Air Rifle events respectively.
To date, she has won 31 Gold, 23 Silver and 7 Bronze medals. She has set 13 new records in International competitions and has won 55 Gold, 35 Silver and 16 Bronze medals, with 8 new records in national competitions in India.
Anjali Ramakanta Vedpathak was born on 5 December 1969, she is from a Marathi Deshastha family in Mumbai. Inspired by the legendary athlete Carl Lewis, Bhagwat developed interest in sports. Her first brush with shooting occurred during her stint as a cadet in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). A student of Judo Karate and advanced mountaineering, Bhagwat was very much attracted towards NCC. She joined Kirti College in Mumbai mainly due to its close affinity with the NCC. As a part of her curriculum she got into MRA (Maharashtra Rifle Association). She started shooting at the age of 21 and within 7 days of holding a gun, she took part in the National Championship of 1988, winning a silver medal for Maharashtra in the process.
Sanjay Chakravarthy was her first coach. She credits him for her strong fundamentals and basics; instilled over a period of over 5 years. She turned pro when she first participated in the National Championships in 1988. She won Silver for her state and continues to play for the Maharashtra team. Her tally of 55 Gold, 35 Silver and 16 Bronze medals in domestic Competitions is unbeaten.
She participated in her first international event in 1995, in the SAF games. Her first international Gold winning performance was in the Commonwealth Championship in Auckland in 1999, where she won 3 Gold medals and a Silver medal in Air Rifle, 3P individual and the team event. She is the only woman to have won the World Cup for India. She considers her rival Galkina Lioubov (Russia) as an idol competitor.
In December 1999, she started training under Laszlo Szucsak, the then coach for the Indian Shooting Team. Bhagwat had personally approached Laszlo after watching his work with the Malaysian Shooting squad. The Hungarian remained with the team for a year during which Bhagwat earned a wild card entry in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she went on to become one of the finalists. From 2001 to 2004, Bhagwat trained without a coach, and still managed to become World Number One in 2002.
During the year 2006, Laszlo re-joined the national shooting squad as the team Coach, and Bhagwat trained with him till 2008. In the year 2008, Stanislav Lapidus was appointed the coach by the Indian National Army for the national squad. Many stalwarts of the sport of shooting often rate World Championships higher than the Olympics. Bhagwat has ranked her victory as the Champions of Champions in 2002 as the best moment in her career. She still remains the only Indian to have ever won the title.
Equipment and sponsors
Bhagwat’s first kit was gifted to her by Bollywood actor and a fellow shooter, Nana Patekar in 1993. She was officially sponsored by the Hinduja Foundation in 2000, and later by the Mittal Champions Trust in 2008. Hyundai Corporation also supported her training prior to 2004.
- 1992:Shree Shiv Chattrapati Award
- 1993:Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar
- 1993:Vasantrav Naik Pratishthan Puraskar
- 2002:Indo-American Society Young Achiever award
- 2003:Times Group Maharashtra Shaan
- 2003:Hero Indian Sports Award -Best sportswoman
- 2003:HISA Sports Woman of the year
- 2003:HISA Shooter of the year
- 2004:HISA Shooter of the year
- 2005:GR8 women achievers award
- 2005:Teacher’s achievement award
- 2006:F I E Foundation National award
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Bhagwat has two siblings; a younger brother and an elder sister. She is a tennis and cricket enthusiast. Yoga and meditation form a large part of her daily routine. Her mother sang for AIR (All India Radio) while her sister is a singer too. An avid reader, she enjoys fiction.
In December 2000, she married Mumbai-based businessman, Mandar Bhagwat. The couple has a son named Aradhya born in 2010. In 2006, she shifted her base from Mumbai to Pune due city’s better sporting facilities. Bhagwat is currently coaching six shooters in Pune, for which she also utilizes her own range. The 10m range is a part of her house and she usually practises there.
In popular culture
She has promoted sports through associations with Sahara and Reliance. Bhagwat was vastly appreciated for her participation in Indias bid for hosting Commonwealth Games 2010 alongside sporting legends like Sunil Gavaskar.
Bhagwat was a part of the Bournvita Quiz Contest as a special guest. She was also a part of the expert panel on CNN-IBN during the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010. She featured in the Hero Honda Sports Awards, 2007 where she sang and danced impromptu with former Indian cricketers Vinod Kambli and Ajay Jadeja. She has also been the subject of inspiration for many including a noted writer and columnist, Shobha De, who dedicated her column to Bhagwat after their interaction at an award ceremony.
She has been on the government selection panel for some of the top notch sports award, both on state & national level such as Shiv Chatrapati Award, Arjuna Award and Dronacharaya Award. Apart from this she has done a guest appearance in Marathi film Bokya Satbande. She has walked ramp twice for fashion designer Vikram Phadnis. She has been teaching blind students. She regularly writes for different newspaper and magazines