Gagan Narang has done it finally! The ace India shooter won India their first medal at the London Olympics by winning a bronze medal in the 10-meter Air Rifle event with an overall score of 701.1. Narang who was participating in his third consecutive Olympics, finally achieved the target that we all knew he was capable of.
Narang qualified by finishing third with a score of 598 among eight shooters. Narang in the process saw Beijing gold medallist Abhinav Bindra failing to qualify for the finals, but made sure that it had no effect on his game. Narang in the finals shot 10.7 at the first go, but failed to back it up as he hit an average 9.7 in the subsequent attempt. Narang did not lose his cool for one moment and came into the competition with scores of 10.6, 10.7, 10.4 and 10.6 to get to number three on the leader’s board.
Narang did have a mishap as he shot one more under 10 and was overtaken by Wang Tao from China for the number three position. At that time it looked that Narang will once again finish a little short of winning a an Olympic medal in his career, but luck favoured the Indian as the Chinese shot a 9.2 and that proved decisive as Narang got the lead by 0.1 point.
Narang didn’t look back thereafter and shot an impressive 10.3 and 10.7 after that to win his first Olympic medal. Gagan was just short of Niccolo Campriani of Italy with 701.5 points and gold medallist Alin George Moldoveanu of Romania with 702.1 points.
Indian shooting contingent looked strong and was considered to be the best team in the history to have left for the Olympics. But things looked gloomy as Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh missed the mark. The biggest shock came when Bindra failed to qualify for the finals. But Narang took the onus on himself and ensured that this day will be remembered by every Indian till eternity.
Narang was in tremendous form going into the tournament. He was among the first shooters to have qualified for the Olympics and had more than a year to prepare for this day. Narang won four gold medals at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and followed it up by two silver medals in the Asian Games a month later.
But it was the Olympic medal that always eluded him. Narang before leaving for the London Olympics had said that he hoped London will be third time lucky for him. He said that the level of competition between Olympics and other event is a lot different as Olympics is the toughest of them all.
Over the years, Narang has a lot of records to his name, including the Commonwealth Games where he shot a perfect 600 to set a new record in 10m air rifle competition. Narang won the gold medal in the Afro-Asian Games in 2003 in Hyderabad. He won gold medal in air rifle in 2006 World Cup and repeated the feat in 2010.
Gagan Narang, who has been a true champion from the past so many years, believes that it is Olympics that shows the true worth of a champion. Narang, who has won four gold medals in Commonwealth Games twice, will cherish the Olympic medal forever, because that is what was missing from his repertoire.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network
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