Gagan Narang now basks in the glory of the Olympic bronze,but just a few hours earlier,while the man concentrated hard during the final round of the 10m air rifle event,the thought of failure and the following consequences crossed his mind on more than one occasion. In fact,even before Narang set his foot at the Royal Artillery Barracks on Monday,the 29-year old perhaps knew just what would be in store for him if he were to return home empty handed.
Narang was widely criticised for establishing Gun for Glory,his personal academy in Pune,nearly two years before he gunned for it at this Olympics. What added to the growing murmurs was the fact that his medal-count had reached a rude cul de sac,following a phenomenal 2010 season where he won medals at will,including four gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Then,results like finishing 77th at the Munich World Cup in 2011 added to talks of a downfall. His excess weight did him no favours either.
But since January this year,the Khel Ratna awardee earnestly began tying up the loose ends leading up to London. First up,he shed eight kilos to get into shape,and around the same time he shut his social networking accounts,cutting off all interaction from the outside world.
Over the next few months,Gagan focused on getting his technique right again. Also,the 29-year old finally got hold of a prone barrel that satisfied his specifications and needs. The lack of it was a big reason and excuse for his 2011 poor run.
But now that the medal has been won,Gagan will not be the only one to heave a sigh of relief. Pawan Singh,Gagans close friend who runs his academy with him,is one of them. Gagan always knew that if he failed in London,he would be criticised for starting the academy. And along with him,I would have been accused of co-conspiring,having coaxed him into started one, says Pawan,clearly relieved. I always believed it was unfair criticism though. Just because he is running an academy doesnt mean he doesnt focus on the job at hand.