The tension was palpable at his home when Gagan Narang lined up for the 10m air rifle final in London on Monday. A polite ‘no’ from Gagan’s father, B.S. Narang, greeted the media personnel who wanted to talk to him before the event began.
“We [Gagan’s mother Amarjit and I] did not go to London because we did not want to be a distraction for him. We experienced this during the 2004 Athens Olympics,” said Narang Sr.
“I remember how Gagan shot a balloon with a toy pistol on the Marina beach in Chennai (where he was born) when he was just two years old, showing early sparks of his shooting ability,” recalled Narang Sr., a retired chief manager of Indian Airlines.
The final begins and when the second round is on, he notices Gagan wearing a ‘bib’ number that is lucky for his son. In the fifth round, when their son shoots a score of 10.4, the parents exchange a smile.
In the seventh round, Gagan’s score of 9.9 makes his father shout out ‘Come on, Gagan! After a disappointing eighth round in which Gagan has a 9.5, the smiles are back as their son claws back with a 10.3.
B.S. and Amarjit heave a huge sigh of relief as it becomes clear that Gagan would get a medal. Even as he completes his shot and the score is flashed indicating a bronze, the parents exchange pleasantries with their neighbours and the media personnel, who are allowed into the room towards the end of the final.
“This is a great moment. We are happy with his performance. After all, it is an Olympic medal,” said a visibly elated Narang Sr. “Any parent would love to see his child win a gold medal in any competition. We definitely hope that this inspires him to do well in the other events in London.” “We are delighted that Gagan has won the first medal for India in this Olympics. We sincerely wish that our athletes win many more,” his parents sign off.