Jaspal Rana is having a change of heart, it seems. The champion shooter, who caught the crowds’ imagination in the'90s, but became so disillusioned with the system that he preferred to stay away from competitions, will return to the fold when he takes part in the National Championships for pistol and rifle, which commence at the Karni Singh Ranges from January 15.
It was indeed a pleasant surprise watching the triple gold-medallist at the 2006 Doha Asian Games - who has missed all national and international competitions in the last four years - once again sharpening his skills at the Karni Singh Ranges surrounded by youths.
"Yes, I have decided to compete again, but only in rapid-fire pistol event," said 34 year old Rana, who trains shooters at the Jaspal Rana Institute of Education and Technology in Dehradun.
Though most of Rana's major achievements have come in centre-fire and standard pistol, including three golds in Doha, he says he is no longer going to compete in his favourite events. "That's past. Things that I've left, I've left for good," he says.
Speculation is that Rana would be going for a 2012 London Olympic quota place when the World Cup season kicks off in March and that's why he is working on rapid fire. But he says there's no truth in all that. "I am driven by my heart. I felt like competing this year in the Nationals and I am here. I am not thinking about anything else."
So why the drift away from the sport after the Doha Games? The champion shooter had told HT he was so fed up with the system he wanted to stay away. But his return can only be good news for the shooting fraternity.