Time to switch gear for World Championships and Asiad: Gagan Narang

New Delhi: Ace shooter Gagan Narang, who recently bagged a silver and a bronze in 50-metre rifle prone and 50-metre rifle 3 position, respectively, at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, said it was time to switch gears as World Championships and Asian Games come calling next month.

The World Championships will be held in Granada, Spain, from September 6, while Asian Games at Incheon, Korea will commence from September 19.

"It is time to switch gears for the Asian Games and the World Championships. Our preparations has started from yesterday itself. The camp has started today. Looking forward to the Asian Games. It is an important event after the Commonwealth Games. I think the team is fresh from the CWG success and geared up to perform at the Asian Games," Olympic bronze medallist Narang from the sidelines of the Asian Games flame lighting ceremony and torch relay.

The London Olympics bronze medallist, however, admitted that World Championships assumes significance as 64 quota places will be up for grabs for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"The World Championships are more important and competitive in terms of more competition at the world level. It is more important because there we will 64 quota places for the 2016 Olympics. Looking forward towards securing some quota places there," Narang said.

"The moment we are finish with World Championships, we will be off to Incheon on the very next day. It is going to be quite hectic. We have to time our peak also properly because you have two really really tough competitions back-to-back. So looking forward to the challenge," Narang added.

Narang today became the first torch bearer of the Incheon Asian Games in the function at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, which staged the inaugural Asian Games ceremony in 1951.

Sixty three years down the line, the same stadium made history again today as for the first time, the torch for the Asian Games, being held outside India, was lit at this venue.

"I was asked to run in the torch relay at last Asian Games at Guangzhou also, but I could not because I had competition. But I am honoured and privileged to be the first torch bearer for these Asian Games.

"It was an overwhelming moment for me as this is a part of the historic moment because this was the stadium where it was all inaugurated, so I feel privileged to play this role," said Narang.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is likely to continue with the tradition of lighting the torch first in India at the National Stadium for all future Asian Games as well.

Apart from Narang, other medal winners of the Glasgow Games also took part in the torch relay, including men`s hockey captain Sardar Singh, squash star Dipika Pallikal, shooter Jitu Rai, boxers Pinki Jangra and Mandeep, weightlifters Sanjita Chanu, Sathish Sivalingam, K Ravi Kumar, Vikas Thakur, among others.

Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Indian Olympic Association president N Ramachandran, OCA Secretary General Randhir Singh and President Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee Young Soo Kim were also present on the occasion.

Once lit in the capital, the torch will then travel through Weihai, China, to arrive in Incheon on August 14, where it will be combined with separate flame lit on Mt Mani, Ganghwa Island on the 12th.

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