Cut to the present, the Hyderabad-based shooter was positive on overcoming the current crisis but warned that it would take longer than expected for normalcy to be restored as several nations are still grappling with high number of positive cases.
Gagan, whose Gun for Glory academy set up across several cities in the country has produced champions like world No. 1 Elavenil Valarivan, Esha Singh etc., said the positive attitude of the sportspersons will help them tide over the crisis.
Speaking to TOI, Gagan said, “Generally, sportspersons are very positive. It’s rare to find a sportsperson without his/her share of sorrow or defeats. They face numerous challenges and need to find solutions in everyday life. Staying positive is the mantra for any sportsperson and it will keep them in good stead,” said Gagan, who won four gold medals each in the 2006 Melbourne and 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
The 2011 Padma Shree award winner, however, reckoned that the Coronavirus-induced break was a setback for sportspersons preparing for Tokyo Olympics. “For those preparing for Olympics, the lockdown is definitely a setback. But I have spoken to several sportspersons and my trainees. They have started adjusting to the situation. When there are highs, there will be lows too. They have started to find solutions. Some are pursuing their hobbies. Hitherto, because of their tight schedule, they never had time to focus on hobbies. Dhanush Srikanth is painting, which is his pastime. Some others have started singing, cooking etc,” said Gagan, who won two silver in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and three bronze medals in the 2006 Doha Asiad.
Personally, though, the break has been a blessing in disguise. “I have been shooting for the last two decades and the hectic schedule kept me away from my parents. My father, Bhimsen Narang, who is a retired chief manager in Air India, and mother Amarjit Narang, are 75. Luckily, only some age-related issues, but I was able to spend time with them. In the last 20 years, this is the longest I’ve been at home and savoured home cooked food. I’m fortunate to be spending time with them after all these years,” Gagan, who won the Rajiv Khel Ratna award in 2011, said.
Gagan, who shot a perfect 600/ 600 in the 10m air rifle event to set a world record during the World Cup final in Bangkok in 2008, said: “It would be a mixed feeling for the record 15 prospective Olympians, who had qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games now postponed to 2021. It’s a big setback for shooters who have prepared really hard for the Games because they need to prepare all over again.” On the academy front, online sessions keep the wards going. “Every evening we have training programmes. I also join them,” he signed off.