Pakistan’s first Olympic markswoman Kishmala Talat guns for historic medal – Sport

The 21-year-old, who comes from a military family, is the first Pakistani woman to qualify for Olympic shooting.

Slowing her breath and focusing on a bullseye in her pistol’s sights, Kishmala Talat is aiming to become the first woman from Pakistan to win an Olympic medal.

At the Paris 2024 Olympics starting on July 26, Talat will compete in the 10m air pistol and 25m pistol events, going for glory abroad and defying stereotypes at home.

The nation’s medal prospects are undercut by modesty codes which dissuade women from participating in sport.

21-year-old Talat, who comes from a military family, is the first Pakistani woman to qualify for Olympic shooting.

“In Pakistan there’s a prevalent taboo that dictates girls should stay at home, do girly things, and play with dolls, while boys are to play with guns,” she said.

“I see no one as competition. I compete with myself,” she told AFP at a target range in the eastern city of Jhelum.

global ranking of 37th in the 10m event and is 41st in the 25m, according to the International Shooting Sport Federation.

“I longed for recognition. I wanted to do more,” she said.

“I wanted that whenever shooting is discussed, or ‘Kishmala’ is mentioned, it would be associated with someone who did something great for Pakistan.”

Hoping to defy the odds, she spends 10 hours a day training — one hour of physical exercise and then four hours each on the 10m and 25m ranges.

The last hour in the evening is spent meditating, concentrating on the flickering flame of a candle in an attempt to hone the zen needed to find her target.

“I am dedicated to giving my best performance to let Pakistan’s name shine,” Talat said.

She takes her shots with her spare hand stuffed in her pocket and one eye covered by custom-fit glasses, her face frozen in expressionless concentration.

The sport of target shooting is not a common pursuit in Pakistan.

Cricket is by far the most popular pastime, but all sports suffer from chronic underfunding.

However, guns are omnipresent in the country.

Swiss weapons research group the Small Arms Survey estimated in 2017 that there were nearly 44 million legal or illicit guns held by Pakistani civilians.

The figure is the fourth highest globally and means there are 22 weapons per every hundred citizens in the nation of more than 240mn.

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