ISSF World Cup Review: It's too early to celebrate, says Gagan Narang
London Olympics bronze winner Gagan Narang says young stars need mentoring to ensure further success amidst new baggage of expectations
Double gold medallist Manu Bhaker
India's ace marksman Gagan Narang, 34, is known to be a man of few and frank words. So, while India's shooting aficionados are busy celebrating the country's top-of-the-table finish at the just-concluded ISSF Shooting World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal-winning rifle shooter has warned against doing so, at least for now.
Double bronze medallist Mehuli Ghosh
"Look, it's a good show by our shooters and especially considering some of the record scores shot by Manu Bhaker [junior qualifying world record of 572 en route to winning gold in the 10m air pistol event] and Shahzar Rizvi [world record 242.3 in the 10m air pistol final to win gold], but we should remember that this is just the first World Cup for most of them and also the first World Cup of the year. So, most of these young shooters have performed without the excess baggage of expectation. So, while we should be happy, I think we should not go over the top with our celebrations just yet," Narang told mid-day over the phone from the Walther factory in Munich, Germany where he is currently testing his new weapon in preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in God Coast, Australia (April 4-15).
10m air pistol world record holder Shahbaz Rizvi
The Indian contingent won one-fifth of the 45 medals on offer in Mexico — nine gold, one silver and four bronze medals to be precise (see box). A crucial element of this achievement is that most of the winners are youngsters, in fact two of them — double gold medal-winner Manu Bhaker, 16 and double-bronze-winner Mehuli Ghosh, 17 are still in their teens, while two other gold medallists, Akhil Sheoran and Shahzar Rizvi are just 22 and 23 respectively.
The results are being attributed to the NRAI's (National Rifle Association of India) special focus on junior shooters. Three-time World Cup gold-winner Narang couldn't agree more: "The NRAI has done well in focussing on youngsters. This has created a broader talent pool of promising shooters, which augurs well for the future. But these young achievers should now be mentored well because the repetition of their success in the next two or three World Cups will determine their true mettle. NRAI must ensure that there is no burn out.
India's medallists at ISSF World Cup, Mexico
* Manu Bhaker: 2 gold (10m air pistol, 10m air pistol mixed)
* Om Prakash Mitharval: 1 gold (10m air pistol mixed)
* Shahzar Rizvi: 1 gold (10m air pistol)
* Jitu Rai: 1 bronze (10m air pistol)
* Akhil Sheoran: 1 gold (50m rifle 3 positions)
* Anjum Moudgil: 1 silver (50m rifle 3 positions)
* Ravi Kumar: 1 bronze (10m air rifle)
* Mehuli Ghosh: 2 bronze (10m air rifle, 10m air rifle mixed)
* Deepak Kumar: 1 bronze (10m air rifle mixed team)