It was a trip down memory lane and a pleasant sight for any lover of shooting.

London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang felicitated his first guru Niranjan Reddy and the latter honoured international medallists Dhanush Srikanth and Surabhi Bharadwaj at the Gun For Glory Academy in Trimulgherry Village here on Saturday.

Srikanth won two gold medals in the recent Deaflympics, while Bharadwaj won a silver in her maiden appearance at the ISSF World Cup.

“This is one of the best moments of my life for sure. I remember the days when I trained a young Gagan in the cellar of the Country Club in 1997 when the city didn’t have a shooting range. Those days, even holding a rifle or a pistol for shooting sport was deemed a privilege. Thanks to Gagan’s achievements, the whole scenario has changed and also thanks to the 2002 National Games when the shooting range was set up on the Central University campus here,” Niranjan said on the sidelines of the event.

“Honestly, I never thought I would see this day when I will be part of an event where two gifted shooters Surabhi and Dhanush were honoured. And to count the amazing success story of Esha Singh (winner of three gold in the recent ISSF Junior World Cup), my joy knows no bounds,” said an emotional Niranjan.

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Gagan gently reminded that he had spent close to ₹3 crore in installing electronic targets and ammunition besides imported guns and rifles at the Gachibowli SATS shooting range, where he took 50 per cent of the area for his own Gun For Glory Academy.

“I am thankful to the State government for giving me this opportunity,” he added.

“Yes, my target through the Project Leap, started five years ago, is to produce 10 Olympic medallists in the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he said even as the young shooters sported a broad smile.

“Honestly, mentoring Dhanush was a huge challenge when he first came to my academy in 2016. Being hearing-impaired and not able to speak, he should have heightened senses on the other front which should help him pursue his passion. We had to be extra patient with him. Then, I decided to have a separate ‘code language’ for him and was glad that it worked,” Gagan explained.

On Surabhi, the champion shooter-cum-coach said that Surabhi won the same medal which he had won in 2003 (Junior World Cup silver) and is a brilliant prospect. “Now, the results show thanks to Project Leap which is a 100 percent scholarship programme aimed at providing expert coaching, quality equipment, and an athlete monitoring system. With Olympic Gold Quest supporting our cause, I am sure the results will be there in the Paris Games,” Gagan signed off.

For their part, Dhanush’s mother Asha and Surabhi said the biggest motivation for them was Gagan himself.

“Whatever we are today, is because of his guidance,” they said.