Gagan fulfills two of his goals

Gagan fulfills two of his goals

giving back to the sport

Gagan Narang

Gagan Narang is well-versed with the challenges to become an Olympic medallist. The rifleman climbed the podium in the London Games but was soon possessed with the desire to ease out the process for others in India. It gave birth to Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation (GNSPF), which will be conferred the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar on Thursday, the National Sports Day.

During its eight years, GNSPF, which is focused on developing and promoting the sport in the county, has opened 11 training centres across eight states. These centres in total have around 1100-1200 budding shooters.

“The previous awards (Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna) were for my performances but this award is special because it is me giving back to the system and the sport. With this role, I have fulfilled two of my goals - helping my team and improving the base of the sport,” said Narang.

“Initially, we learnt about the challenges and along with Pawan, the co-founder of the foundation, we came up with a structure. At the start, we were supported by a foundation called Lakshya in Pune which gave us an initial seed funding of Rs 20 lakh to train 20 talented athletes. I put in my entire 2010 Commonwealth Games gold prize money into the academy.

“We went to the equipment and pellet manufacturers and requested them to provide the weapons at a discounted price so that it could be accessible for the athletes. The challenges that I and my parents faced in my formative years, I didn’t want any parent to face. In the first year itself, we got the result because these 20 kids won almost 60 international medals! Shreya Gawande, Shriyanka Sarangi, Apurvi (Chandela), Rakesh Manpad - who is Apurvi’s coach - was part of it. Even Heena (Sidhu) and Rahi (Sanorbhat) initially.”

Narang was quick to realise the abundance of talent in the country. “That’s how we decided to broad base the academy and targeted tier-two and tier-three cities.”

The 36-year-old, who took a year off from the sport, is now making a comeback and was confident about India’s prospects in Tokyo Games. “We are definitely going to do well in Tokyo from Rio. Tokyo is in my mind but that depends on how I do in the upcoming competitions. Next month we have the selection trials and if a miracle happens then I’ll be selected for the Asian Championships.”

With IOA threatening to boycott the CWG 2022 because of omission of shooting, Narang said: “Boycotting a sporting event would be unfair to the other sports. I am sure that what needs to be done. All possible solutions have been offered to them and I hope that the good sense prevails in the organising committee and shooting is included in the CWG 2022.”

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