It wouldn't be premature to crown Gagan Narang the next ‘Goldfinger’ so early in the Commonwealth Games.
The precision with which the champion 10m air rifle marksman decimated the field, and, most importantly, won the 'mother of all battles' against Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, put him notches above the best in the business.
It was a day when Narang could do no wrong. Such was his authority that he first killed all opposition with a perfect 600 in qualification to equal the world record. He took his awesome form to the final, where he shot a 103.6, thus bettering the Final World Record (FWR) of 703.5 — set by him at the World Cup Finals in Bangkok last year — by one-tenth of a point. Bindra settled for silver with 698 (595+103).
Despite Narang equalling the world record in qualification and bettering his FWR, it's unlikely the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) will recognise it, as the CWG does not figure on its list of recognised events.
Faced with a piquant situation, ISSF member and technical delegate from England, David Parish, said, “We've sought the ISSF's clarification. Till then, I will reserve my comment.” Nevertheless, it was a Games record, with the genial Hyderabadi eclipsing his Melbourne Games qualification record of 597 and then going on to break the Final Games record of 698.9, also set by him in the Australian city.
Gold prices might be touching an all-time high, but at the Karni Singh Ranges the Indians were perhaps on a buying spree, gleaning three gold and an equal number of silver to once again stamp their authority on the event.
After a one-two by Narang and Bindra, the bubbly Anisa Sayyed and an equally effervescent Rahi Sarnobat shut out the field in 25m sports pistol, bagging gold and silver respectively. The former scored 786.8, beating the Final Games Record (FGR) of 781.5 set in 2006 by Australia's Lalita Yauhleuskaya.
More was to come as Omkar Singh trained his weapon in the 50m free pistol event with intent, notching up gold with a score of 653.6 (557 + 96.6).
At the post-match conference, Narang and Bindra had only admiration for each other. “We
were competing with and not against each other,” said Narang. Bindra said, “Gagan shoots par excellence, he'll for sure go on to win the World Championship and Olympic titles in the years to come.”
Two Hyderabadis — VVS Laxman in cricket and Narang in shooting --- doing the country proud on two consecutive days! So what's the secret? "It goes to the Hyderabadi biryani," said Narang in a lighter vein.
Perhaps, he'll have to order it for the entire team tonight.