New Delhi: Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s second innings as a “mentor” earned him Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar on Thursday, thanks to the academy, Gun for Glory, he started in 2011. Narang has now been dedicating much of his time training young shooters across the country.

Along with Pawan Singh, Narang started the academy with an aim to make high-quality training facilities, accessible and affordable to youngsters.

The 2012 bronze-medallist now dreams of expanding the sport and believes it’s just a matter of time that our shooters start winning medals for the country at the highest level of the sport.

“This award feels special. I had received Arjuna award but this one is a recognition for giving back to the system. We wanted to help the team and broadbase the sport. Initially, when we started the foundation we realised that not too many people were taking up the sport because they were not sure if the sport was safe. They also thought that shooting was expensive,” Narang said Shooting has always been an expensive game for the equipment it requires. Narang remembers his own struggles and doesn’t want the current shooters to face the same hurdle.

“When I started my parents had to sell a lot of land to support my sport and buy a gun for me. They rented an accommodation for almost 20 years. I don’t want any other parent to go through the challenges I faced.

“We have created a system where anybody could just walk in and start their training. Now we are able to achieve elite level training for one whole year which is less than the cost of the gun,” he said.

Talking about the progress their academy has made, he said, “In the first year we saw 20 shooters winning 60 international medals. We had provided them support that did not exist anywhere in the country. The result has motivated us a lot.”

So much so that Narang had even contributed his own Commonwealth prize money to the academy.

“I had put in my entire Commonwealth games prize money into the academy to subsidise the sport. We spoke to the manufacturers to bring down the cost of the equipments,” Narang said.

As the conversation veered towards his own game, Narang was asked about his own participation in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I have started training. I am unsure whether Tokyo will happen or not. It will all depend on the competitions coming up,” he said.

“Next month we have the selection trials and if a miracle happens I will get selected for the Asian Championships. From thereon we will take a different route altogether. I am working for a miracle to happen,” Narang added.

“There are a few things that I am working on. There are a few competitions lined up over the next few months or so. My participation at the Tokyo Games will depend on the kind of results I have at these events,” he said.

On IOC’s recent proposal to boycott from the next Commonwealth games in Birmingham in 2022 after shooting was not chosen as one of the 19 sports, he said, “It is unfair on a lot of other athletes. However, we have to stay united when it’s about the country. I am sure what needs to be done will be done. We hope that the issue has been taken to the highest level. I am sure that the NRAI, government and the ISSF are looking at all possible solutions to the situation.”

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