If the news of top foreign athletes pulling out of the Commonwealth Games was not enough, here is more bad news. Two of India's top sportspersons — rifle shooter Gagan Narang and pistol shooter Samresh Jung — who shared among them nine gold at the quadrennial Games in Melbourne in 2006, are frustrated because of varied reasons.
Narang, who returned to the Capital on Friday after shooting down a bronze at the World Championships in Munich, told HT he was taking a "break from shooting", as he had "no motivation left for the Commonwealth Games". The Hyderabad marksman had four gold at the Melbourne CWG and this time he could be gunning for six in individual and pairs events.
Narang was ignored for the highest sporting honour, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, for the third consecutive year and it's "broken me from inside".
"I don't have the motivation to shoot in the Commonwealth Games. I might not shoot… I don't have the motivation to shoot beyond today. Ignoring a world record holder is an insult. The perception of people can be changed with the government's intent and without it there is no reason why one should continue to bring in glory. I feel wrecked," the champion shooter, who sealed the first London Olympic Games quota for the country, said on Friday.
"I usually stop checking my e-mails five days before a major competition. But, on the eve of the competition I opened my mailbox only to see that I had been ignored again. I was heartbroken. (Team-mate) Samresh took me out, tried to talk me out of the shock…I wish they (Sports Ministry) had treated me better."
"I don't say (shuttler) Saina (Nehwal) shouldn't get the Khel Ratna. But, what about me…my achievements are bigger."
Samresh, who earned the sobriquet of ‘Goldfinger' after his five-gold haul in Melbourne hasn't had a coach since Czaba Gyorik left two years back following the expiry of his contract after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. "There is no coach for more than a year, the shooting ranges are not ready, so where is the motivation to shoot, although I know Samresh will still give his best in the CWG," said wife, Anuja, who too won a gold in Melbourne.
Samresh is in Munich for the World Championships and is returning on August 13. "You need an experienced coach while you are shooting to iron out technical issues. This is indeed a big dampener," said Anuja, adding her husband's preparation had not been going in the right direction.
Half the number of gold India win in the CWG will be shared between them. But no one's talking about medals, at least for now.