Sporting comebacks are not easy. But there are many fruitful stories of athletes returning
after a break to have one final swing. After the Rio Olympics, the Indian shooting contingent received a lot of flak for their poor show. Gagan Narang, who was a part of the team, went there with a lot of expectations centered around him. Unfortunately, he could not live up to them.
After a while, news about Gagan shifting his focus to coaching and mentoring the next generation of shooters was doing the rounds. His break from taking part in competitions also had many believe that he had hung up his boots.
Though he started the Gun for Glory academy in 2011 and founded Project Leap — a mentorship programme in association with the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) — recently, Narang never really stopped competing.
And that reflected on Thursday as he bagged silver in the men’s 50m rifle prone event at the Commonwealth Shooting Championship in Gold Coast. “I took part in a few competitions on my own cost due to the current selection policy, and shot some good scores there.
“That boosts your confidence and motivation to another level. Shooting is my number one priority now and the drive of doing well is higher than ever,” he told Express from Australia.
In fact, missing out in Rio is something that fired him up and helped him bag this medal. But the London bronze-medallist was not very happy with his performance. “I narrowly missed a place in the finals (in Rio) in prone, and that’s motivation enough to go back to the drawing board, re-strategise, work hard, and come back. I am close but not entirely satisfied with my performance. But this will certainly help me work in the necessary direction to improve,” he added.
At his age, juggling coaching and competing at the same time can be tricky. But Gagan does not feel that multiple responsibilities have taken a toll on his game. And this comeback is certainly not going to be his last outing. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games approaching, he is determined to prove a point.
“I do not actively coach anyone except Pooja Ghatkar. I do however oversee and mentor some of the shooters while I am on the range. But it does not hamper my own preparations. I am happy as long as my thoughts and energies are flowing in and around my sport. “Any competition has it’s own challenges, both technical and mental. I am working on them one step at a time. Age is just a number as far as shooting is concerned.”