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Working towards a miracle: Narang on fifth Olympics

August 28, 2019 16:42 IST

Gagan Narang

IMAGE: Shooter Gagan Narang in pensive mood. Photograph: PTI Photos

The unassuming Gagan Narang, on Wednesday, put down the prospects of a fifth Olympic appearance to a 'miracle', one that he is relentlessly 'working towards' by training on and off the range.

For one of India's finest practitioners of rifle shooting, securing a fifth Olympic berth is not beyond the bounds of possibility, but the 36-year-old was modesty personified when discussions turned to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

"I have started training, Tokyo will happen or not, only the upcoming competitions will tell me," Narang, a bronze-medallist in the 2012 London edition, said during an interaction.

 

"Next month we have the selection trials and if a miracle happens I will get selected for the Asian Championships. From thereon we will take a different route altogether. I am working for a miracle to happen," he added.

Narang preferred to remain practical as far as another shot at the Olympics is concerned.

"There are a few things that I am working on. There are a few competitions lined up over the next few months or so. My participation at the Tokyo Games will depend on the kind of results I have at these events," he said.

He has set up many training centres across the country as part of the Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation (GNSPF) to teach and promote shooting to young aspirants.

His efforts will be recognised, on Thursday, when President Ram Nath Kovind presents him the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar on the National Sports Day.

He said mentoring aspiring shooters doesn't come in the way of his personal goals, rather the whole process helps him.

"I don't think that affects my personal shooting. Take for example the case of Ela (Elavenil Valarivan, one of his best trainees) or Shreya (Agarwal), sometimes they shoot 28 and tell me that 'sir I have shot 28'. Then my challenge is to shoot 29. So it kind of keeps you focussed."

"I can't be more happy when kids from the academy shoot better than me. Each day is a learning curve."

As talks turned to the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) proposal to boycott the 2022 Commonwealth Games for excluding shooting from the roster, Narang said it would be 'unfair' on other disciplines.

But he is glad that the Sports Ministry, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) are working towards getting the 'optional sport' back in the programme.

"If it happens then great," he said. 

Narang hopes Dronacharya Award is instituted at every level for coaches

Olympic bronze medallist shooter Gagan Narang hoped the Dronacharya Award is instituted for coaches at every level in the future with equal incentives for even those tasked with spotting talents. 

"I believe there should be a Dronacharya in every system, at every level, -- the best grassroots level coach, best intermediate level coach, best excellence coach, best foreign coach," Narang said during an interaction.

"That way people will not want to make that transition from grassroots to the top coach. Incentives should be given at all levels, there should be a system in place where the grassroot level coach is aspiring to become the best grassroot level coach in the country."

"Because without grassroots level coaches elite can't do anything. There has to be a system in place and the government is working towards it."

Currently, they have 16 training centres across the country (in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) where they train over a 1,000-1200 shooters annually.

GNSPF has come a long way since its inception in 2011, with Narang himself funding it by using the money he won in the form of cash awards after his stellar display at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

"We are working from this year onwards on a coach development programme wherein coaches of the respective branches are called to Pune for development of coaches and handling kids."

"They are taught a little bit of administration, they are taught a little bit of soft skills, little bit of practical knowledge is give to them."

"We are planning to hold the coach development programme twice or thrice from this year onwards which will also upgrade the knowledge of the coaches."

"And every year we would want a coach from different parts of the world so that our coaches get the best of all world whether it is from Russia, Europe and so on."

Narang, whose father sold their house in order to help him become a shooter, is familiar with the struggle young athletes face in their quest to reach the top.

While he has no doubt that things have improved drastically from the time he was dreaming to make it big, Narang said more needs to be done, urging corporate houses and state governments to contribute."

"In not-for-profit scenario we are always strapped for funds. So if we are able to give scholarship to someone and support him, it's always better than putting the money back into the system."

"We are able to support a limited number of people with whatever resources we have. Of course we are always strapped for funds because we have a lot of talent in the country which needs to be supported.
"If I show you my facebook or instagram page I have 200 requests saying please give me one chance. 

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