'I am satisfied with bronze'

'I am satisfied with bronze'

From shooting balloons on the Merina beach in Chennai to the Olympic Games podium, Gagan Narang has come a long way.

Gagan Narang exults after nailing bronze in the 10M air rifle in the London Games on Monday. DH Photos / KN Shanth Kumar

That childhood fascination developed into a passion and on Monday, Narang was the proud holder of an Olympic medal, though he would have preferred one of a brighter hue.

“I did make a few technical mistakes in the third series of the qualifying round but I am quite satisfied with the bronze, an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal,” said the 29-year-old but he agreed with his coach Stanislav Lapidus who said his ward could have won the gold on the day.

“He shot a bit too fast in the third series, leading to a 98. I told him to shoot a bit slow but he didn’t. One more point there would have made a big difference in the final,” said the Kazakh coach.

Thanks to that 98, Narang shot 598 in the qualification, with his other series reading 100, 100, 100, 100, 100. The two shooters above him scored 599 each.

Perfection, though, is not a stranger to Narang. Twice, he has shot 600 out of 600, the last one being at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. “It is always challenging and exciting to hit a 600 but today, it wasn’t to be,” he said.

Chasing that exciting score has taken him places in the past, having first made his mark on the international stage at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad, back in 2003.
Athens was his first Olympics but he couldn’t make the final then but two years later, the Hyderabadi showed his talent in full measure, winning four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

It should have been the stepping stone to Olympic success but in Beijing, he missed the final by one point after shooting 595. Watching Abhinav Bindra nail down the gold, Narang then raised his level, putting in extra work under Lapidus.

At the World Championships in Munich two years ago, Narang again showed to the world that he belonged in the elite list, winning the bronze medal.

If anyone needed any reminder of his class, the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi provided that as he shot a world record to defend his gold medal in the air rifle, en route another haul of four gold medals.

The only medal missing from his collection arrived on Monday, and no wonder, that left him elated. “It is the Olympic final and anything could have happened today. Everyone wants to win an Olympic medal and I am no different. It's a huge load off me, but my Games is not over yet, I have more events to go.”

Lining up in 50M rifle prone and 50M rifle three-positions as well at these Games, Narang can fire away confidently, now that he has come up with a breakthrough performance.

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