A balancing act for Narang

A balancing act for Narang

Competing in three events, the bronze-winner from London is keen to turn golden this time

A balancing act for Narang

In the London Games, Gagan Narang achieved his long-held dream of winning an Olympic medal with a bronze to his name. Since that high, he has had a bit of a roller-coaster ride due to a spate of injuries. A fit again Narang now is keen to change the colour of his medal to gold in Rio.

The 33-year-old, who qualified for the Olympics last year with a bronze in the 50m Rifle Prone event at the World Cup at Fort Benning, USA, is among the 12 Indian shooters representing India in Rio. His journey in these four years has not lived up to his standards. Barring the success of 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he won two medals, he didn’t have any standout results.  However, his recent performance at the World Cup in Baku where he made the finals in 10m air rifle final, had been encouraging for him.

“An Olympic gold is every Olympian's dream and it is the quest for the yellow metal that gets us to the training ranges even when the going gets tough. For me this Olympics is immensely important as I am in the prime of my career and want to desperately go for a rout in Rio,” Narang told Deccan Herald.

“I have been down and out with a string of injuries which kept me out for almost a year-and-a-half. On the personal front, I had a huge struggle getting my mind and body in sync. I had started my preparations at least a year in advance. And I have been slowly building up to the games.

“From the last results I got in Baku, I can definitely say everything is in sync now- both the mental and physical aspects of the sport.”

At Rio, Narang will be participating in three events: 10m air rifle, 50m rifle prone and 50m rifle three positions. Balancing the three events in Olympics can prove to be challenging but the Hyderabad-based shooter was not worried.

“I have been doing the balancing act for about eight years now. Yes, the formats are very different because of the guns and the conditions. The 10m air rifle event is more controlled because it is in a closed space. For the last few years I have done well in prone, I won my first big medal in Glasgow. I hope to reprise that form in Rio,” he said.

“For the 50m events, wind and weather conditions and ammunition variability come into play. But a few Brazilian shooters have told me that there won’t be any significant wind during that time of the year. I have shot the World Cup in Brazil this year, which was also the Olympic test event. We shall be going there a few days in advance to acclimatise ourselves.”

Narang will be reaching Rio on July 24 after a week-long training stint in Switzerland. Earlier, he also spent time at Moscow training with former India rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus.

“In Moscow we saw a state-of-the-art state-sponsored facility. It is almost like a seven-star facility where you can walk in from one end to the other end and find every facility you can ask for. I had never seen something like this before,” he said.

Equipment play a key role in shooters’ life and Narang has ensured he doesn’t lag behind in technology. Reputed German gun makers Walther have presented him with an rifle, which is light in weight besides having an electronic trigger.

“For Rio we have done the checks painfully, weighing each bullet. The new gun from Walther Shooting to an extent is equipment intensive. And having the best equipment and tuning has an advantage. I have updated and tuned both my air rifles and .22 rifles- Walther and Bleiker. They have given good test result during my training stints at Lucerne. I have had a bit of problem with my jacket. However, equipment-wise I am happier than before.”

Narang admitted a tough contest awaits him in Rio. “All the Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Australian big guns will descend on Rio. Like all of life's exams, in the end what matters is who is better prepared, not who is more talented or more skillful,” he said.