Gagan Narang had set world records and bagged medals in the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. But an Olympic medal had eluded him. That dream came true for the 29-year-old shooter on Monday.
“Hopefully, I will be lucky third time,” Gagan had said before leaving for London. His prayers were answered. His mother Amarjit Narang went to a nearby Hanuman temple to pray for her son’s success. There was palpable tension at Flat No 205, Ganga Cauvery Apartments at Shamlal in Begumpet. His father Bhimsen Narang, a retired chief manager with Air India, was nervous. At the end of the 10th round in the final, when Gagan clinched bronze, the relieved Narangs got up and thanked God.
“He is mentally very strong. He wanted this medal desperately and has achieved it. It is a proud moment for the country,” said Narang Sr.
As a young kid, Gagan used to hit the bull’s eye aiming at balloons on Marina Beach in Chennai. “That was more of fun,” said his father.
He showed real interest in shooting when the family moved to Hyderabad and started training under Niranjan but the turning point came nine years ago when, as a 20-year-old, he shot gold at the Afro-Asian Games. There was no stopping Gagan after that. At the Delhi Commonwealth Games, he won four gold medals overshadowing Beijing gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.
But at one time, Gagan had thought of quitting shooting and skipping the Commonwealth Games when he was overlooked for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Better sense prevailed and, the next year, he bagged that award.
“It is all about momentum and luck. I always believed that luck plays a big factor. The Commonwealth Games was a morale boaster for me. People recognised my feat. That was huge,” said Gagan, who confessed that he was under pressure ahead of the London Olympics. Of course, Gagan, overcame that pressure.