Gagan Narang to receive Khel Protsahan award

On Thursday, Gagan will have the unique distinction of getting the Khel Protsahan award from the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, for spreading shooting sport across the country and giving direction to the young shooters to reach world standards in a short time.

Gagan Narang is already an Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

He is one of the most accomplished and decorated sportsman in the
country. Former World and Olympic medallist Gagan Narang was bestowed the Arjuna award in 2005 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2011.

On Thursday, Gagan will have the unique distinction of getting the Khel Protsahan award from the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, for spreading shooting sport across the country and giving direction to the young shooters to reach world standards in a short time.

"This award is special. It is a recognition for giving back to the system and to the sport. The focus has been to help the shooters with better performances and also to broad base the sport. People had many questions, whether the sport was accessible, affordable’’, said Gagan, as he interacted with the media on the eve of the Arjuna award function.

Expressing gratitude to Lakshya for helping the Gagan Narang Sports Foundation with an initial investment of 20 lakh rupees, Gagan recalled that he had put all his cash awards from the Commonwealth Games to set the ball in motion for Gun for Glory, along with Pawan Singh.

"The 20 shooters that we worked on initially went on to win 60 international medals. That motivated us to expand and reach out to talented juniors in other parts of the country. With whatever money we have, we try to support talented shooters," said Gagan.

Shooting is not that easy a sport to practice, owing to the cost of the equipment and other procedures. And once somebody buys a rifle for about two lakhs, he gets stuck with the sport for a few years, irrespective of his ability or interest.

"I had faced many hurdles in my journey as a shooter. Now, when you have a system, you cut a lot of time, and help the juniors achieve world standards quicker. What we did in 10 years, these kids achieve in three or four years. Now, anyone can just walk in and start in the sport without spending much money’’, said Gagan, who has 11 centres across the country in eight States.

The process has also helped a lot of former shooters to get into coaching and guide the juniors more efficiently.

With the system streamlined nicely, and with the government and national federation playing their part well, Gagan was confident that the Indian shooters would fare much better in Tokyo Olympics next year, and wipe the disappointment of having drawn a blank in Rio in 2016.

On a lighter note about his shooting, and highlighting the higher quality of performance reached by the rest, Gagan said that he would need a miracle to make the Indian team for the Asian championship that offers the final set of Olympic quota places for Tokyo.