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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Beating all odds, Gurpal shoots silver

Saurabh Duggal, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 29, 2014
First Published: 09:18 IST(29/7/2014) | Last Updated: 09:44 IST(29/7/2014)

Punjab’s Gurpal Singh had all the odds ranged against him. He belonged to a farmer family with little land holding. Father was not keeping good health and the elder brother is physically disabled.

So, he was left with no choice but to start looking for a job as soon as he finished his schooling.

He joined the army as a sepoy at the age of 19. At that time, the sport of shooting was nowhere in picture. But, on Monday, Gurpal, 34, made the country proud by clinching a silver medal in the 50m pistol event at Glasgow. Gurpal, who scored 187.2, lost gold to his fellow army shooter Jitu Rai (194.1).

“As of now this is my career’s biggest medal and I am happy that I did it for the country in my debut Commonwealth Games,” said Gurpal, while talking to Hindustan Times from Carnoustie, 150km from Glasgow, where the shooting event is taking place.

“It’s a long, long journey for me. I joined the army with the sole aim of feeding my family and to arrange funds for the marriage of my two sisters. It was later in the army only that I got a chance to be part of the shooting sport and today whatever I have achieved is only because of the army.

Moreover, till date because of the financial limitations, I am unable to buy my own personal weapon and it’s with the army’s pistol, I won the medal,” added naib subedar Gurpal,whohailsfrom Virka Kalan village in Bathinda.

Gurpal, who joined J&K Rifles and now attached with Mhow Marksmen’s unit, started the sport in 2002, but, initially, because of the service requirement, he couldn’t devote much of the time it. It took him a little longer to get his first international exposure in 2009. After that, he was on-andoff in the national squad and it was from the last year only that he is a regular face in the Indian team.

“He is a real fighter. Today, he was sixth in the qualifying round but rallied to finish second in the final,” said Raja KS Sidhu, deputy chef de mission of the Indian CWG contingent.

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