Gagan Narang had everything in shooting to his name barring an Olympic medal. His disappointment of missing out at Beijing was always apparent in his interviews. But, at the London Games, Narang got his much awaited and much cherished Olympic medal. A bronze medal to his name and he has probably got everything in shooting now.
As the Indian fans went in a state of shock seeing 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra get knocked out in the qualifying round, Narang had made it to the finals with an impressive qualifying score. Bindra who made the entire country proud by winning the first ever gold medal in the individual category in 2008 couldn’t defend his title but Narang was still in the reckoning.
India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Bindra failed to qualify as he shot 594 to finish 16th out of 47 contestants.
There was a ray of hope as Narang lived up to the expectations in the qualifying round. As Indian athletes failed one after another at the London Games 2012, Gagan Narang rose to the occasion as he shot bronze in the 10m Air Rifle event.
The Hyderabad based marksman scored 598 points which got him the third spot, just a point behind the number one and two qualifiers – World No. 1 Niccolo Campriani of Italy and Romania`s Moldoveanu Alin George who both came up with an Olympic-record equalling 599.
Narang finished with a 10.3 and then a 10.7 to snatch a bronze medal away from China`s Wang Tao. It was a relief for the man who had narrowly missed a medal at the Beijing Games. As the crowd cheered for Abhinav Bindra at the Beijing Games, Narang stood in utter disappointment having missed the podium by the margin of one point.
This time he made sure that he didn’t go through a similar experience. He came up with a formidable performance and defeated the best in the business to end India’s drought at 2012 Olympics.
Narang’s seventh and eighth shot produced scores of 9.9 and 9.5 but he bounced back to seal the bronze with impressive scores of 10.3 and 10.7. The 29-year-old fell two short of his world record score of 600. The man from Hyderabad is the only shooter to have shot a possible 600 twice.
With Narang’s Bronze medal, it is for the third time in row that an Indian shooter has won a medal at the Olympics. Double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver in 2004, Bindra created history by becoming the first Indian to bag a gold medal in the individual category in 2008, and now Narang has bagged a bronze, India’s first medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
The third day at the London Olympics will be remembered for the resilience shown by the Indian athletes. In a country with a population over a billion, Narang clinched India’s first medal.
Narang’s medal might not shine as much as Bindra’s gold, but at the London Olympics, he has certainly made the country proud by marking them at the medal’s tally.
The medal should be a huge relief for Narang who was labeled of being ‘mentally weak’ to deliver at the biggest sporting event. He finally silenced the critics as he mounted the podium with his head held high.