The world’s oldest professional sharpshooter began her career by accident in 1999. Chandro Tomar had taken her 12-year-old granddaughter Shefali to the new shooting range in Johri, her village in rural Uttar Pradesh, northern India. As they were the only females there, 67-year-old Tomar led by example: “I picked up the gun and fired. I hit the bull’s-eye.” It was the first gun she had ever touched and the range owner thought it was a fluke. So she took aim again – and hit the bull’s-eye once more.
For her first competition a few months later, she pretended to chaperone Shefali, and returned with a silver medal. Her husband and brothers-in-law were furious – Tomar, who had never been to school and married into a farming family at 15, was expected to look after the grandchildren. “I listened to them quietly,” she told Shalini Venugopal Bhagat in The New York Times, “but I decided to keep going no matter what.” Now Tomar, 89, has won more than 25 medals at state and regional contests.
A national celebrity, she travels across India to give talks on female empowerment. Her life has even been the subject of a Bollywood film, Saand Ki Ankh (Bull’s-eye). Tomar still doesn’t wear glasses and can touch her toes. She attributes her fitness to grinding wheat and milking cows. The sharpshooting grandmother also keeps her trigger finger in good shape: “I still feel excited every time I pick up a gun.”
Follow the Olympic flame
The Olympic torch relay began this week in Japan, marking the advent of the Tokyo Games. The 121-day relay kicked off in Fukushima and the torch will be carried across the country by 10,000 runners. The ceremony has been a long time coming, said the organising committee’s president, Seiko Hashimoto. The torch arrived in Japan last year, but because of the pandemic it has sat inside a museum in Tokyo, being kept alive “quietly but powerfully”. To watch its journey in real time, click here.