From ‘Just Participating’ To Winning Medals With Fire In The Belly – Gagan Narang Traces Change In Indian Sport

India’s three ace javelin throwers (from left) Kishore Jena, Neeraj Chopra and DP Manu.© AFP/Twitter

Neeraj Chopra put Indian sport on world map once again as he won a gold medal at the World Athletics Championship. With a throw of 88.17m in the javelin throw final, Chopra won the maiden World Athletics Gold Medal By an Indian. Neeraj has been a trail-blazer of sorts. After he made it big in javelin throw, the athletics discipline showed a great potential. The result was that two other athletes Kishore Jena and DP Manu also finished in top-6 in Sunday’s final.

Gagan Narang, 2012 Olympics bronze medallist in shooting, said that the current crop of Indian athletes are fearless and have gone through a paradigm shift when it came to winning mentality.

“They are fearless. What differentiates them from us is that they are out there to win and not just participate. In our times, we would go there to participate or get into the finals. These kids, they just want to go out there and win. They have fire in their belly,” Gagan Narang told NDTV.

This week has particularly been great for Indian sport. Whereas Chopra won gold medal the World Athletics Championships, R Praggnanandhaa finished runner-up at the 2023 World Cup. On Sunday, HS Prannoy finished with a bronze medal in men’s singles at the World Badminton Championships.

This is a major shift in Indian sport. Earlier, shooting was India’s primary focus for medals at multi-sport events. Now, the avenues of medals have increased manifold. So, are shooters under pressure? Narang had an interesting reply.

“Not at all. Shooting has seen a generational shift. When there is a generational shift, there is always a lull before the storm, I would say. We have great bench strength in other sports. Shooting will only complement these sports,” Narang, who is a vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), said.

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