THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fate has been hard on India’s international shooter Prakash Nanjappa on multiple occasions. But on each turn, the marksman has returned stronger and hit back harder — his latest reply being the gold medal in men’s 50 metre pistol at the 35th National Games here on Monday.
Son of former national shooter PN Papanna, Prakash was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, just after bringing home a bronze medal from the ISSF World Cup in 2013, paralysing the right side of his face. However, being the fighter he is, Prakash recovered from the nerve disorder and won medals at both the Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2014. All was well until he injured his ankle in the build up to the 2014 World Championships in Spain.
“As a shooter, I have faced several hurdles in the last couple of years or so; first with the Bell’s Palsy and then this ankle injury which forced me out during my path to recovery,” the 38-year-old told TNIE after winning his the first gold on offer in shooting here.
“Therefore, it means a lot for me to have won this gold medal despite all the odds stacked against me prior to this event,” said Prakash, who had little time to prepare after arriving here from his training base at Pune.
The Bengaluru-born shooter had to wait until the final shot to leapfrog Punjab’s Amanpreet Singh. “I just got the basics right, which was to focus on the sight, aiming area and then squeeze the trigger,” he said, while fighting hard to control his emotions.
“Amanpreet, who came second, is a good shooter while Jitu Rai who won bronze is currently one of my favourites. So it feels wonderful to win gold at such a beautiful range,” he said of the neck-and-neck battle.
“But I want to do better and improve myself. My target is to represent India at the 2016 Olympics and for that, I would have to do better as the competition will also get tougher in the coming months,” he added.
This was his first gold for Karnataka at the National Games, and Prakash dedicated the medal to the people of Karnataka for the support he has received over the years. “I could upgrade on the silver I won for the state last time. However, it is unfortunate that we don’t have a good range in Karnataka,” he said.