Joydeep with his son at the club. (Bishwarup Dutta)
Back home with the Arjuna Award, the new poster boy of Bengal sports Joydeep Karmakar talks about life after Olympic 2012.
Did you dream of getting the Arjuna Award?
Never. It was Ekalavya, not Arjuna, who’s my inspiration. In the phases when I got no help, no coach, I learnt a lot by watching others. It was only after getting the statuette in hand that the importance of the achievement sunk in.
Do the felicitations speak of Bengal’s hunger for an international sports icon after Sourav Ganguly?
Bengalis have been in a state of despair as we have so few players winning in the global arena. Olympics for most people is an occasion to watch the fireworks of the opening ceremony and then the interest subsides. Suddenly to see someone with a Bengali surname competing in the finals and putting up a fight for a medal must have given people that “Yes we can” feeling.
For every 100 children who wanted to be Sourav Ganguly 10 years ago how many would there be wanting to be Joydeep Karmakar now?
I have heard kids are coming to shooting. But to train them we need infrastructure. I have asked the state sports minister for a proper range. If we are bidding to host National Games in 2014, that must come up. If the kids don’t get support they will move to other sports. I try in my own way — by replying to every message or query from young shooters on social network. I am criticised for spending so much time on Twitter despite being an international level player but I am not a celebrity. I am a middle-class boy. I celebrate mediocrity.
Lastly, there are talks of you getting an offer to shift to Haryana…
Yes, it happened when I was in Delhi for the Arjuna Award. I do not need a paisa from the state government for my training. The sports ministry has a programme in place for that. But I have other needs like a roof over my head. Shooting is my only capital. It’s all I can do. If Manipur can give (C. Soru, the archer) Rs 25 lakh just for Olympic participation, will my own state give me no special recognition for a fourth-place finish?