Olympics-Shooting-Australia's Galiabovitch brings surgical precision to range

TOKYO (Reuters) - Medical school manuals may not mention it but Australia’s Elena Galiabovitch believes shooting has made her a better surgeon, and not the other way round.

The Minsk-born 31-year-old pistol shooter maintains a difficult work-life balance, often hitting the shooting range straight after her shifts in a Melbourne hospital.

“Surgery is very technical. You need to learn a lot of operations, a lot of skills, a lot of fine motor skills and pistol shooting is no different,” said Galiabovitch, making her second Olympic appearance in Tokyo.

“Participating in a sport has helped my medicine a bit more than the other way around.

“Even though the decisions you make in medicine are very different, it’s about health.

“Here in sport, you’re in high-pressure situations, you need to think on your feet, you need to adapt, you need to calm yourself down, there are a lot skills there.”

Galiabovitch came 27th in 10-metre air pistol in Tokyo, having finished 43rd in Rio five years ago.

While most of the athletes had their Olympic preparation disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in Galiabovitch’s case, the impact was quite different.

With medical resources diverted to fight the pandemic and elective surgeries halted, she was pleasantly surprised to find extra practice hours.

“It was very strange,” she said. “I was so used to just going straight from work, to the range, to sleep. Early in the morning, every day I’ve been at the range and I was like, oh, now I can train in the daytime!”

Daughter of Australia’s national pistol coach Vladimir, Galiabovitch knew she would get attention from some of her parents after returning to her medical duties.

“Some patients in the past have seen me on TV,” the shooter, who will compete in women’s 25m pistol on Thursday, said.

“At the time of the Commonwealth Games in 2018, when I returned to work, some of my patients were like, ‘Oh, I saw you on the television’. I was like, ‘Yes, yes, you did!’”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Christian Radnedge