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Saturday, November 27, 2021

After beating facial paralysis, Prakash wins 10m pistol silver

It wasn’t as if I was down, but it was all at the back of my head even when I walked into the range today, Najappa says.

Written by Chinmay Brahme | Dundee |
Updated: July 27, 2014 2:07:56 am
Prakash Nanjappa at the podium on Saturday. (Source: AP photo) Prakash Nanjappa at the podium on Saturday. (Source: AP photo)

Sleep, says Prakash Nanjappa, was not really his best friend on Friday night. The 38-year-old shooter simply could not relax his mind enough to catch some crucial shut-eye before the 10 metre air pistol event on Saturday.

“There was something or the other always going through my mind. Firstly, I couldn’t stop thinking about my pistol. There was a nagging feeling at the back of my mind. Then, the memories of Spain kind of made an entrance. It wasn’t as if I was down, but it was all at the back of my head even when I walked into the range today,” he says.

Back in April 2013, fresh from a World Cup bronze won in Changwon, Korea, Nanjappa had travelled to Granada in Spain for another World Cup. Unfortunately, he was hit by an attack of facial paralysis (Bells Palsy), which meant he could not close his right eye and his facial muscles began to sag, the day after he reached Granada. He flew back immediately, underwent a course of heavy medication and six months later was back with a pistol in hand.

Since then, Nanjappa says he has really taken off as a shooter. He won the silver medal at the Asian Airgun Championship in Tehran before scaling another heady peak at the Barry Buddon shooting centre at Dundee on Saturday. The 38-year-old put in a commanding performance to take the silver in the 10m air pistol finals. At one point, he says he had the gold absolutely locked up before a freak mistake allowed Australia’s Daniel Repacholi to claim the top prize.

Interestingly, before his event on Saturday, Nanjappa had changed his pistol. “Earlier, I was shooting with a Pardini pistol. Before this competition, I switched over to a Morini. I wasn’t very sure whether the change would actually work. The change in pistol has been a constant companion in my thoughts as I have prepared for the event. But now I think it’s quite a lucky weapon,” he grins. Almost completely cured of his illness, the shooter still requires the use of eye-drops to counter the dryness in his eye.

Son of former national-level shooter PN Papanna, Nanjappa had given up shooting for six years, as he moved to Canada to work with a telecommunications company. “I took up the job in 2003 because I had to earn my livelihood. I was an upcoming shooter but didn’t have any sponsors. I worked for a while in Canada but there was always something missing,” he says.

On Saturday, Nanjappa seemed on course for a dream gold medal. Conceding the lead on the 10th shot to Repacholi, Nanjappa continued to fight hard. He even managed an almost-perfect 10.9 in his 15th shot, but by then the deficit was just beyond his reach.

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