Gagan Narang had given a hint of the Olympic medal two years ago when he won the world championship bronze medal in Munich, despite being agitated about not getting the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award then.
That world championship medal was an indication of things to follow as both Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Abhinav Bindra had won the world championship medals before landing on the Olympic podium.
It was one medal that was missing from Narang’s rich collection, as he had won the World Cup finals with world records to boot, not to forget the Asian Games medals, including the individual silver behind Zhu Qinan in Guangzhou.
“I missed going into the final in Beijing due to a technicality,” recalled Narang, about missing the final last time, despite his score of 595 making the cut.
He shot only two 9s in the qualification and felt that he could have fared better.
Focus on future events
“This is the final. Anything can happen,” said Narang, quite pleased with the bronze medal. He said he had two more events, the 50-metre prone and 3-position events, to focus on and there was no question of celebration or losing focus at this stage.
“I don’t know what is happening back home,” he said.
At the moment of triumph, Narang was thoughtful in thanking everyone for the great support back home, and hoped for the support to continue in future as well.
Coach Stanislas Lapidus was not satisfied with Narang’s bronze medal, and the shooter responded by saying he had committed a “few technical mistakes in the third series,” the only time a perfect score eluded him during qualification, and that he would agree with the Kazakh coach who has been training the Indian rifle shooters for a few years.
There were many light moments as well, as the medallists interacted with the media. The gold medallist Moldoveanu answered a query in jest that he had won the gold “just by mistake.”
The Romanian was taken aback to be compared with Nadia Comaneci and said she was far too great to be compared.
It was quite weird that the focus was on the bronze medallist at the press conference, thanks to the big Indian presence, and world champion Nicolo Campriani of Italy, who was being trained by Gaby Buehlmann of Switzerland, Bindra’s coach for over a decade, recalled how he had shared the podium with Narang in the last world championship two years ago.
“Indian shooting has done well. Wish you the best for Rio,” said Campriani.
Of course, a lot of business is still unfinished for Indian shooting in London.
Moldoveanu said he was not put off by his sixth shot of 9.9. “I didn’t think of it as a difficulty. I had four more shots left,” said the Romanian, who made those shots count by climbing to the gold after having tied for the second with Narang after that sixth shot.
He had shots of 10.3, 10.3, 10.5 and 10.3 in the climax to triumph in a strong field.
Direct talk better
Campriani had been a translator for his compatriot two days earlier at the press conference and said it was better to directly talk to the media.
He said his Olympic silver would possibly make the sport more popular back home in Italy and give the chance for kids to try shooting, even if they eventually want to run back to soccer.
“It is a great day. I am really happy. I still have prone, in which anything can happen. I have better chances in 3-position,” said Campriani.