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Still going all Gagans blazing, age notwithstandingSporting comebacks are not easy. But there are many fruitful stories of athletes returningafter 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.”
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Olympic medallist Gagan Narang says his ‘priority’ is active shooting despite taking up mentoring of lateHe may have taken to mentoring of late, but active shooting remains Gagan Narang’s number one priority and he says there is “no doubt” he is eyeing more international glory, including another shot at the Olympics.After a gap of one year, the London Olympic bronze medallist is back to his pet event – 10m air rifle – and he is gunning to hit top form.“Shooting is my No.1 priority, I love to be around the sport whether it is through mentoring, coaching or whether in terms of my shooting… Right now my own shooting is my number one priority, ” he told PTI during an interview at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges on Thursday.The marksman, who has completed two decades in the sport, added, “I will continue to do it as long as I enjoy doing it. Nobody is in the team because they are shooting for 20 years. you are on the team because you are the best.” The 34-year-old, along with a full-fledged Indian shooting squad, will be leaving for Gold Coast, Australia, on Friday to compete in the Commonwealth Shooting Championships, a test event for next year’s Commonwealth Games.“… And if there is someone else better than me then why not. As long as I am enjoying my sport, shooting well, as long as I am able to win medals for the country I will continue to shoot.“Age is just a number. Every day is a new day and of course, as you progress, there is a different kind of challenges. Definitely, it’s important to have a good amount of drive and motivation, which I have. I am just going to go all out.”Summing up his journey so far, he said sometimes it’s hard to remain motivated after winning so many times across the world.“It’s been good, I have won every medal that was there at every level, sometimes finding motivation after winning so many medals is tough, but the Rio (Olympics) performances are also on the back of my mind and that is motivating .. I am giving it all I have got.”“You need to have long-term vision somewhere. I am taking it one competition at a time because you are as good as your last competition. I am taking it one step at a time towards a bigger goal.”If he makes it to the Tokyo 2020, it will be Narang’s fourth Olympic appearances.He has been mentoring the likes of Pooja Ghatkar and has also tied up the Olympic Gold Quest besides being actively involved with Project Leap and his own Gun For Glory Academy.“When you are mentoring you are always around the sport, whether it’s like project leap and the academy, I love sharing my knowledge and knowledge is something that needs to be always updated, it also needs to be refreshed.“When you are training somebody, a lot of times I have found that it helped me, too. For example, usually, they say that a good shooter or a great shooter can’t be a good coach because he is going to analyse things from his perspective.“But I have been fortunate to train under so many good coaches that I have kind of picked up different techniques from different coaches, and I think the more amount of information you have, sometimes that can get complicated, but, at the same time, it can help a lot of shooters at various levels.“I have seen that while trying to solve somebody’s problem I found that I also probably have the same problem so I thought let me also try and that has helped me.”He said he is constantly trying to keep himself updated with the changing trends in the sport.“As far as technical help is concerned I have friends all over the world and most of them are all top shooters and we kind of exchange notes if we know we have a problem.“Also these days because of social media you get to know about the latest equipment coming in the market much faster.
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