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Gagan touches peak at Changwon

The bulls eye in his sight all the time, it's not difficult to figure out why Gagan Narang is shooting down gold at World Cups all around the globe. Ajai Masand reports.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2009 22:52 IST
Ajai Masand

The bulls eye in his sight all the time, it's not difficult to figure out why Gagan Narang is shooting down gold at World Cups all around the globe.

The 26-year-old Hyderabad sharpshooter became the first Indian to bag a 50m rifle three-position gold in a World Cup with an aggregate of 1264.0 points — 1166 in preliminary and 98.0 in the finals — at Changwon (South Korea) on Wednesday.

His burgeoning kitty now has three World Cup gold and two bronze. Come to think of it, the chubby champion took to the 50m events just a couple of years back and today he is rubbing shoulders with the best in the business.

But a humble Narang, whose shooting career started with a personal tragedy — he lost his grandfather a few days before his first major event, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games — is the man to beat today. There are many firsts to his credit.

He was the first Indian to clinch a Beijing Olympic quota berth when he bagged his first gold at the 2006 World Cup in Guangzhou in the 10m rifle event. At the season-ending elite World Cup Finals in Bangkok last year, he broke the world record on way to his second gold in 10m.

At Changwon, he first bagged bronze in his favourite 10m air rifle, finished fourth in 50m prone after being in contention for gold at one point, and finally hit the big one.

“I am still learning,” Narang, who's shed a lot of weight especially for the three-position event, told HT from Changwon. “I secured gold on the very last shot, when my opponent, Korea's Han Jinseop, shot a fatal 7.3.”

Han finally settled for silver with a score of 1261.9 (1165+96.9). “It's a delightful feeling. Any win is memorable and sweet and this one will be too since it's my first gold in 50m rifle events.”

On how he compared his two 10m air rifle gold with the 50m gold he earned on Tuesday, Narang said, “One cannot compare the victories as the effort put in is always different. All have been special and memorable.

“But my best is yet to come. I am looking forward to improving on my scores with the new equipment I'd be trying out after the World Cups.

“I am not proving a point. This is what we are supposed to do…make our country proud …watch the flag go up while the world stands up and salutes it.”