With multiple medals in the World Championships,Asian Games and Commonwealth Games behind him,Gagan Narang went to London looking to complete his collection. Having already missed out twice in the previous editions at Athens and Beijing a haunted look seemed to pass over Narangs face when TV cameras panned past him after his eighth shot a 9.9 that momentarily moved him out of the medal bracket.
So,when he raised his rifle to the crowd after confirming bronze with ice-cool scores of 10.3 and 10.7 in his two final shots,he wore the smile of an athlete who had realised his lifes dreams. This was the thought that Pawan Singh director of the Gun for Glory shooting academy,where Narang trains felt running through his mind when he watched the 10m air rifle final on TV in Pune.
He has finally got that Olympic medal,the one thing that had eluded him for so many years, said Singh,when Newsline finally managed to reach his overburdened phone line. Just like Sachin Tendulkar finally winning the World Cup last year,Gagan has realised his lifes dream now.
Was Singh slightly disappointed when Narangs seventh and eighth shots in the final dropped him out of the reckoning for a potential gold or silver? A little bit,but Im happy that he has won Indias first medal, he said. After qualifying,I thought hes definitely in the reckoning for silver or gold,but these things happen. Gagan still has his 3-position and prone events,so he isnt finished yet.
Sanjay Sabnis,director of the Balewadi Sports Complex,which houses Gun for Glory,said he was proud of Narangs feat. Gagan is a proven performer,and he could have won gold,but in the Olympics,against the very best in the world,anything can happen, he said. We are happy,and preparing to celebrate his achievement. We now expect the academy to produce 10 more Gagan Narangs.
Tejaswini Sawant,who won gold in the 50m prone event at the 2010 World Championships,also trains at Balewadi as part of the state governments Krida Prabodhini scheme,was thrilled by Narangs performance.
Im happy that he has opened Indias account, she said. In qualifying,he scored 100 out of 100 in five of the six rounds,and handled the pressure of the finals well. At such a stage,losing focus for even a fraction of a second can hurt you. Gagans mind control was tremendous.