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Narang takes big leap in honing budding shooters2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang is already credited with nurturing talented shooters like Heena Sidhu, Apurvi Chandela and Rahi Sarnobat, who all trained at his ‘Gun for Glory’ shooting academies for years. For rising stars like Pooja Ghatkar, Mahima and Turhi Agarwal, the 10m air rifle shooter is perfectly playing the role of a mentor. Always ready to give back to the sport, which gave him all the name and fame, the 34-year-old Narang is ready with another ambitious programme — Project Leap — to produce future Olympics champions.He spoke to The Tribune about the project:Excerpts:Tell us about the programme? Project Leap is about identifying young and talented shooters and train them into medal-winning prospects at the international championships, including Olympics. For the first year, we have begun by selecting 23 out of the 57 shortlisted shooters. The shooters went through a trial, where they were asked to showcase their scientific, physical, meta-cognitive and technical skills. Out of the chosen ones, Mahima and Elanevil are already part of the junior national team. The selected shooters will attend a fully-funded Elite Junior Excellence Camp at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune and will be trained by world-renowned coaches Anton Belak (Slovakia) and Kim Seonil (Korea).How does the programme work?The methodology is to organise five camps of 12 days each over a period of one year. It’s about getting 60 days of elite coaching from foreign experts. We have divided the age groups in five categories — 10-12, 12-14, 14-16, 16-18 and 18-20. There will be a dedicated team of professionals to monitor a shooter’s scores, basics and technical skills. When theses shooters get selected for the Indian team, they don’t have to start from the scratch. The coaches at the junior national camps would only be required to finetune their skills. If we are targeting a medal at the 2020 or 2024 Olympics, we have to start from the grassroots level. …but what after 60 days of training?These shooters would return to the Gun for Glory regional academies. Their progress would be monitored by the academy coaches, who have already been trained by foreign coaches. It’s about ensuring that the training imparted to these shooters remains in sync with the programme. The shooters would then be encouraged to participate in domestic competitions to break into the national team.What about your own plans for next year’s CWG and Asian Games?I have just made a comeback into the national team in the 10m air rifle event. At the moment, I am focussing on air rifle and 50m rifle prone events. Prone would, of course, go out of the 2020 Olympic programme. But, it would remain there until the World Championships next year. So, for the CWG, Asian Games and World Championships, I would compete in the air rifle and 50m prone. After the Worlds, I will start focussing on 50m rifle 3-positions.
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Priyanka Maji: An Inspirational Story Passion is a very overlooked quality. Working on your craft for days and days with blinders on requires a very superior amount of dedication. Priyanka paints a clear picture of how important passion can be. She works a 9 hour shift at Dominos from noon to 10 at night. Prior to that, she puts in 3 hours of serious practice in hopes of mastering her sport; all this at the age of 22. She began rifle shooting four years ago with the NCC in Asansol, West Bengal. She received several accolades including a Bronze medal in her first All India NCC Inter Directorate Shooting Championship. While everything was going well she was challenged with a major obstacle. The thing about these obstacles is that they have the rightful authority to make or break a person. In Priyanka’s case, the obstacle not only made sure she came back stronger but also made her a very mature young adult. A young adult who has a mind open enough to dream big and a heart strong enough to work all out to achieve that dream. She is a rare concoction of the dreamers and the hard workers. Coming back to the obstacle; she could no longer practice shooting with NCC. Seeking a solution, Priyanka joined a private Shooting Club; however, the club had no Shooting Equipment and Rifle to support her. She didn’t give up though! With the support of her family, Priyanka decided to join the Gun for Glory (GFG) Shooting Academy, Pune: A decision that changed her life forever. To support her dream of shooting, Priyanka started working at Domino’s. It might not sound like much, but at her age, children are still testing their luck with the world. On the other hand, Priyanka has a goal in her mind and is willing to do anything to achieve this goal. When you are as focused as her, distractions rarely disrupt your routine. At GFG, Priyanka’s score has been steadily rising and she expects a Gold medal at the next National Competition. What’s more? She doesn’t have to worry about a weapon or a good coach anymore!
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