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On a winning trail

ROLE MODELS Koneru Humpy and Gagan Narang win laurels for India  





Medal-winning performances by Gagan Narang and Koneru Humpy at Doha are bound to motivate young players

The news that chess star Koneru Humpy and shooter Gagan Narang were among the first Indians to bag medals and thereby put Andhra Pradesh's stamp in the medals tally at an early stage of the Asian Games in Doha has come as a big morale booster for sports lovers in the state.Grandmaster Koneru Humpy's gold medal triumph in the women's rapid chess tournament was a welcome development since it provided India with its first gold medal.Since the rules at the accommodation complex forbade men and women to stay in the same lodgings, Humpy could not take her father and coach Koneru Ashok with her and this was undoubtedly a drawback for her. But she gave it her best and emerged victorious.The anxious father who waited patiently at home was ecstatic as soon as he heard the news and profusely thanked all those people who had lent their support to Humpy.In shooting, Gagan Narang's feat was also very heartening. There are several young and talented shooters emerging from the twin cities and a medal-winning performance by Gagan Narang is bound to encourage and motivate them considerably.Gagan made it into the medal bracket by bagging a bronze in the 10-metre air rifle team event at the top class Lusail shooting range in Doha. The Indian team comprising Gagan Narang, Raghunath and Navnath Fartade won the bronze in behind China, which won the gold while South Korea bagged the silver. If Abhinav Bindra had not pulled out, India may have easily got the silver since Korea was just one point ahead. However, in the individual event, which was held shortly after the team event, Gagan succumbed to pressure and could not get the expected medal. "I was under extreme pressure and it was just not my day," was his first reaction.In the individual event Gagan was placed third at one stage of the competition but he was unable to keep up his concentration and dropped down by two places to end up in fifth position. Gagan's aspirations were nullified as his closest opponents from China and Korea kept their cool and shot with near perfect accuracy to take the first four slots."In the sport of shooting, particularly in air weapons, even a miss by a fraction of a centimetre can make a big difference," Gagan had explained a few days ago before he had left for Doha.As Gagan himself has admitted, he has to do more work on the mental aspects of his preparations before he can conquer the best rivals in the world. Perhaps it is time that Gagan got himself a permanent coach, which is something that will have to be looked into, after he returns to Hyderabad.

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA