Firing his salvo

Gagan Narang…“My motivation level is terribly low. I am just not in the mood to pick up the gun now."-PTI

Gagan Narang, overlooked for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ranta award, has decided to take a break from the sport. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Gagan Narang won a bronze medal in the 10-metre air rifle event at the World Championship in Munich recently. The effort made him the first Indian to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. But then the shooter is a disappointed man, though for a different reason.

Having been overlooked for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ranta award, Gagan Narang fired his first salvo on August 6 stating that he had decided to take a break from the sport.

A man of remarkably cool temperament, Narang was rarely known to make any critical comments even when he had to go through testing times in his career. But the fact that the 27-year-old shooter gave vent to his feelings following the ‘Khel Ratna snub' once again is perhaps an indication of how frustrated he is.

Narang stopped short of pulling out of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. “My motivation level is terribly low. I am just not in the mood to pick up the gun now,” said a visibly dejected Narang, in a chat with ‘Sportstar' on his return from the World Championship.

He even asked what more he needed to achieve in order to get the recognition due to him.

“I have decided to take a break. And I cannot straightaway tell you how long this will be. There is no deadline as such,” Narang explained.

“Definitely, it would be wrong to view my decision as pulling out of the Commonwealth Games. I am not saying that,” he added.

Narang's disappointment is a direct consequence of being ignored for the Rajiv Khel Ratna award which was given to fellow Hyderabadi, Saina Nehwal. “I have nothing personal against anyone, and I am not here to debate whether anyone else deserves it or not. My question is: what more do I have to achieve in order to get this award?” Narang said.

The shooter said that any decision on taking part in the Commonwealth Games will be a collective one — he would discuss it with his family members, friends, sponsors and the Federation.

“I cannot take a decision in this regard on my own,” Narang added.

He also made it clear that he doesn't want to sound like a complaining character, and that he was not trying to issue any veiled threats. “That is not my nature. But I know what sort of ordeal I went through even before I won the bronze at the World Championship (the nominee for the Khel Ratna award was announced a day before Narang won his medal). Then itself I thought of quitting the sport,” Narang revealed.

The ace shooter, who has won two World Cup medals, two Asian Championship medals and set a world record in recent times, said: “Honestly, I don't know what more a sportsperson can do than win medals in a World Championship to be considered for this award (Khel Ratna).

“Definitely, I am pleased that I won a bronze in the recent Worlds and booked a slot for the London Games. But it all ends there.”

Narang then signed off in the hope that he would get some clarity on the subject in the days to come.