Gagan Narang sees Olympics rising above the pandemic
Bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, Gagan Narang believes that the unprecedented situation that the world finds itself in due to the COVID-19 outbreak will not affect the importance of the Games.
While the Bundesliga - the German football league - resumed its season on May 16 with matches being played without spectators and strict adherence to social distancing norms, there have been questions on how other Olympic disciplines will shape up in the coming months.
While the Tokyo Games have been pushed by a year, the former rifle shooter believed it will still be contested as fiercely as it has been in the past.
“I wouldn't say that the current crisis will diminish the importance of the Olympic Games because ultimately it comes once in four years,” said Gagan Narang speaking to WION News.
“The pressure will always be there to perform at the Olympics because it is simply the pinnacle of sports. Currently, I would advise the shooters to work on their short-term goals, but completely ignore the Olympics which is scheduled for next year.”
Indian shooters in safe hands
Indian shooters have been confined to their houses since a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus was announced in March.
With no competition and no avenue to step out during this period, many believe that the situation might impact the mental well being of the athletes.
But the four-time Olympian believed that the shooters were well taken care of with their coaches and mentors stepping in when necessary.
“One of the defining qualities of an athlete is that he or she is always positive, no matter what the situation,” he believed. “You have to be able to learn from the ups and downs in your life.
“Athletes are bound to go through hardships in their careers, and it is only when athletes stay positive that they can win.”
Meanwhile, the 37-year-old former shooter also hoped that with no international competition to look forward to, the National Rifle Association (NRAI) will make the most of the time this year to help the shooters get back into shape ahead of the 2021 season.
“I think a full-fledged domestic competition would be very difficult to organise because of the logistical challenges. But tournaments for about 20 shooters, who are in contention to travel to the Olympics can be arranged to keep them sharp,” Narang hoped.
“But even that tournament would only be possible when the lockdown restrictions are eased. We do now know to what extent travel will open up, so holding domestic competitions could also be a challenge.”
Gagan Narang has been actively involved in helping to shape the careers of the upcoming shooters through his academy Gun for Glory with the numero uno in the women’s air rifle Elavenil Valarivan being his most prominent ward.