Having come extremely close to competing in the final rounds of both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, returning without a medal had taken a serious toll on Indian shooter Gagan Narang.
After missing it by just one point at the Athens Games, he had come even closer at Beijing where he missed it by 0.1 points.
"It was tough. I shot an 8.9 in my 42nd shot and the difference between an 8.9 and 9 [the other shooter who qualified] is a hair's breadth,” Gagan Narang pointed out in the Medal of Glory show.
“I missed making it to the finals on a countback of scores. I was 595 out of 600 points and there were five shooters at the same score of 595,” he recalled.
The Chennai shooter had won a gold medal at the ISSF China World Cup in the build-up to the Olympics at the same range that hosted the Olympics competition later, and that made things even worse.
“I was in a state of shock and depression. When I came back home, I did not touch the gun and I would have these emotional outbursts,” Gagan Narang revealed.
“I could not sleep for a couple of days and I would wake up in my sleep.”
However, Gagan Narang had his parents and trainers to help him through it. And the shooter soon realized that he had momentum on his side.
His next competition was the ISSF World Cup Finals in Thailand and the marksman ended up shooting the perfect score of 600 that led him to create the world record score of 703.5.
“I didn't leave even one point to chance this time and I had to shoot a perfect score,” Gagan Narang said.
“It kind of motivated me to carry on again.”
No pressure to start competition
While momentum was still on Gagan Narang’s side when he sealed his place at the 2012 Olympics, his past performances at the world’s grandest stage weren’t encouraging enough for the Indian shooter.
“I always had this thought which my coach had told me that 70-80 per cent of the athletes win at their first Olympics,” Narang disclosed.
“I was quite demotivated.”
However, playing his third consecutive Olympics, the shooter had made up his mind that he would only compete when he was fully comfortable and in rhythm.
Expectations from the shooting contingent at the London Games were higher after Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal feat at the 2008 Olympics. But, Gagan Narang was not letting any of it get to him.
He kept practising his shots for thirty minutes after the competition started before he felt confident.
“I had told myself unless I am really settled into the zone and am very calm, I will not start my competition,”
“After 35 minutes into the official start time, I pressed my record button.”
After going through the qualifying round smoothly Gagan Narang eventually finished third in the competition, just one point behind the gold medallist.
Gagan Narang’s bronze medal was India’s very first medal at London 2012, following which the nation went on to win five more medals to have their most successful Summer Games in history.