The grip is vice-like. The focus intense. The index finger is on the trigger waiting to be pulled. The target — to win a medal in the London Olympics. The excitement is naturally palpable for Gagan Narang as he waits to hit the bull’s eye every time he pulls the trigger. The cherubic Gagan hopes to be third time lucky. After his medal-less shows at Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), Gagan is determined to be quick on the draw this time around.
The 29-year-old air-rifle shooter, who will take part in the 10 metres, 50m Rifle Prone and 50m Rifle Three Position, is confident in his third appearance at Olympics. His pet event being the 10 metres air-rifle event.
Consistency will be the key factor for his success. With national coach Sunny Thomas strictly keeping the shooters off the media, Gagan has been focusing for the Games. “Shooting has been on top in the country. We have so many shooters qualified to the Games. I think consistency will be the key in this year Olympics and I’m looking forward to my consistency,” said Gagan earlier in January.
It was probably unfortunate at Beijing where Abhinav Bindra shot to glory, Gagan had to return empty-handed. “It was sheer bad luck that Gagan was not in the final. It was one of the bad days,” said Thomas. But this time around Gagan is more seasoned and experienced enough to handle the pressure. In fact Gagan revealed that his interaction with Rajmond Debevic from Slovenia has put him in right perspective. “I was feeling low one day and went on to just speak to him about his shooting career. He said it was his eighth Olympics. My confidence has soared after my talk with Debevic, who is 40 years old,” said Gagan. Incidentally, Debevic won the first medal in his fifth Olympics.
Winner of World, Asian and Commonwealth meets medals in the last few years, Gagan is hoping to add the Olympic medals to his booty. According to Shimon Sharif, a national shooter, Gagan is waiting to avenge for that loss at Beijing.
“It was one of the huge setbacks for Gagan then. He could not accept that defeat. He was waiting for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. He shot to glory with four gold medals, including the 600 out of 600 in the qualification round of 10m air rifle event. He fought the demons and wanted to prove that he is one of the best in the world,” said Sharif.
The Delhi Commonwealth Games may have been important phase in his career but the Hyderabad-based shooter believes that the turning point will come after he wins the Olympic medal.
“It is very difficult to rate my top three achievements. I think World Championship bronze medal which I won at Munich in 2010 was a special one because I had to come out of adversities and difficult situations. The Commonwealth Gold medals at Delhi was also a special one because I could perform in front of my home crowd,” he said.
Gagan has to confront the adversities. The big challenge will come from Abhinav Bindra, Chinese shooter Zhu Qinan (silver medallist at Beijing), Nicollo Campriani of Italy (current World champion) and Sidi Peter of Hungary.
“There will be top class competition and it is all about luck factor on the day. But Abhinav, Zhu and Gagan are the top contenders for the medals,” said Sharif.