Bhimsen Narang and mother Amarjit Narang, parents of shooter Gagan Narang, clap for their son; (below) A collection of medals won by the shooter | Express photo
Flat No. 205 of the Ganga-Cauvery apartments in Begumpet erupted in joy on Monday evening. A horde of media persons landed at the flat when news trickled that Hyderabadi shooter Gagan Narang was in the final of the 10 metres air-rifle event in London Olympics. There was not much activity otherwise except for father Bhimsen Narang and mother Amarjit sitting with anticipation at their flat. Gagan's mother read a small prayer before the event began while Narang senior was waiting eagerly for the final. "I’m tensed. He did reasonably well in the qualifying round with a score of 598,’’ shared Narang, who was glued to the television.
The moment arrived at 4.45 p.m. Amarjit came out of her prayer room, sat near the television when the final began. The first shot of Gagan was spot on with a 10.7 out of the first ten shots. The second was 9.7. There was a bit of disappointment. The third was 10.6 and it brought a wide smile and then the next shot was even better with a score of 10.7, prompting a clap from mother Amarjit. "He shot well,’’ exclaimed Narang senior. The fifth was 10.4 and the sixth 10.6, indicating that he was in the run for a medal. "It is all about pressure. The next four shots will be crucial,’’ informed Narang senior. At the crucial seventh shot, Gagan was off target by shooting 9.9, which put him in the fourth position behind the Chinese shooter. "I think it should be a close one. He should keep his cool,’’ he hoped. Gagan was unflappable. It was 10.3 and then in the last it was 10.7 to land him a bronze with a score of 701.1. It was time to celebrate. The hordes of media persons who were waiting outside rushed in to congratulate them. The Narangs kept their cool. "It is all God’s grace. It is a proud moment for the country. He brought the first medal for our country at London. He won medals everywhere except for the Olympic medal,’’ said Narang, who retired as general manager of Air India.
Gagan's parents are extremely proud of him, but celebrations will be held back as Gagan will participate in other events. "We are hoping that he wins a medal in one of those events as well,’’ shared mother Amarjit, adding, "He won laurels in most of the big international events but Olympics is mother of all events.’’
Amarjit, an architect by qualification, but retired as joint director in military engineering even helping to rebuild the collapse bridge during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, said his son’s hard work has paid off.
In fact, the apartment people chanted Hanuman Chalisa for Gagan’s success, said RP Sharma, who stays at the pent house of the apartment. "Our prayers have been answered,’’ said Sharma. It was also a proud moment for Laxmibai, who has been their maid servant for as long as 35 years. "Gagan is a nice person. He deserves the award,’’ she said.
For the moment, Gagan’s parents will stay in Hyderabad. But they will soon move back to Pune, where he has set up an academy called 'Gun For Glory’. "It has been his dream project. He suffered all sorts of hardships to become an international shooter. Keeping this in view, he set up the academy which has foreign coaches (air-rifle, pistol), mental trainer, gym. Today, the academy boasts of promising shooters who have already won medals in international events,’’ informed Narang.
In fact, Gagan had long proposed this idea to the AP Government of setting up an academy at the Hyderabad Central University, but to no avail.
"But we did not get any response from the government. Gagan even pleaded that if he is given the range, he could keep the machinery in working conditions,’’ shared Narang.
Meanwhile, Amit Sanghi, president of Rifle Association of Andhra Pradesh said they will arrange a grand welcome for Gagan on his return from London. It was a few years ago, the State association didn't recognise his World Cup achievements. But the wheel has turned a full circle. After weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, who won bronze medal at Sydney Olympics, Gagan is the second from State to win an individual medal in Olympics.