Shooter Roger Daniel is in India to compete in the Commonwealth Games with the hope of building on his 2010 medal count which already includes a gold and a bronze medal at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Puerto Rico. The 19th edition of the event starts on Sunday and runs until October 14 in New Delhi. Daniel will also be looking to improve on his performance from the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where he placed third in the 50m pistol. In his next major event, the Olympic Qualifiers in Brazil in November, Daniel will vie for his third trip to the world’s biggest sporting stage, having already represented T&T at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
Before he left for India, the 40-year-old T&T Defence Force Corporal spoke about what he hopes to accomplish in the next few months. “I’m really going to be pushing myself hard for this,” he said. “The most breathtaking moment of any athlete’s life is when he stands on the podium and hears his national anthem play. I’m looking forward to an experience like that.” A former national hockey player, Daniel first developed an interest in shooting when he joined the Defence Force in 1996 and now looks back on his introduction as a turning point in his life. “All soldiers are expected to be able to shoot and after being around guns so much, it felt like a natural fit,” he shared. “Shooting is a sport that changes you. It requires you to be still, calm and patient for very long periods of time and the training also requires you to take yourself to another level.
“How you are outside of the sport is how you are in the sport. So what you try to do mentally is keep yourself calm at all times and stay focused and just do what you have to do.” Daniel motivates himself by keeping tabs on the performances of the world’s best shooters and setting out to beat their scores. Since shooting is a relatively obscure sport in T&T though, he must deal with shortages in facilities, equipment, ammunition and targets. Despite the setbacks, he remains unfazed in the pursuit of his goals. “I’m not a person that allows frustration to get to me. You have to shut out all these things and stay focused,” he said. “If you get frustrated, your body can create a chemical that causes an imbalance so I try to avoid it.”
There is a feeling in some corners that the sport is dying in T&T but Daniel indicated he has seen an increase in interest following the national team’s third place finish at the 34th Copa Del Caribe in Puerto Rico in May. The real problems, according to him, stem from the local laws restricting young people from picking up a gun which he fears will keep the sport from developing to its full potential. “The outside world will always be ahead of us once their athletes are starting at an earlier age,” he said. “But if we can harness our young talent properly, I think we will see some future champions come out of the sport.” Looking ahead to his own future, Daniel said that shooting will be a part of his life for a long time to come.