India’s top shotgun marksman Mairaj Ahmad Khan is drawing inspiration from tennis legend Roger Federer to excel at the Tokyo Olympics, which are three months away.
Mairaj, who will be competing in his second Olympics after the 2016 Rio Games, is the oldest shooter in the 15-member shooting contingent. But the Bulandshahar-born skeet shooter says the 20-time Grand Slam champion from Switzerland is his inspiration to do well in Tokyo.
“When I see him on the court and when people say he is getting old, I say ‘no;. I think he is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). Whenever I see him, it gives me goose bumps,” says Mairaj, who is ranked 10th in the world in his event.
“I really want to be like him; he is my idol,” says Mairaj of the 39-year-old tennis great in a video tweeted by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
“I always watch his (Federer’s) games. I always read about him. It gives me immense pleasure…how he is still coping with that kind of pressure, with so many (good) players in tennis now.
“So, here I am, all of 45 and I have team-mates who are 23 or 24 years old. And I am drawing inspiration from Federer,” says Mairaj.
On his message to the youngsters in the team ahead of the Games, Mairaj says, “The 100-day mark is up, so I am here to congratulate all the Olympians and all the future Olympians who are going to represent Indian at the Olympics. I would like to tell them to give their best and bring medals home. And I will do the same; give my 100 per cent and, hopefully, we will win medals this time.
“It will not be a Rio repeat. We have a good team and all the shooters are among the best in the world,” he said.