Shooter Manish Narwal smashed the Paralympic record to clinch India’s third gold in the ongoing Tokyo Games, while compatriot Singhraj Adana bagged the silver to make it a sensational one-two finish for the country on Saturday. The gold and silver from the Faridabad duo took India’s medal tally to 15 — 3 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze. The 19-year-old Narwal, who holds the world record in the category, shot a total of 218.2, a Paralympic record, to claim the yellow metal in P4 Mixed 50m Pistol SH1 event in his debut Games.
”I’m very happy,” said Narwal who hails from Ballabhgarh in Haryana. Narwa had a keen interest in sports from childhood and grew up wanting to become a football player. Unfortunately, he could not fulfil his footballing dreams due to a congenital ailment in his right hand.
His wrestler father Dilbagh tried doing anything to make sure that his son’s deformity did not hold him back. In 2016, on the suggestion of a family friend, Dilbagh took Narwal to a nearby shooting range at Ballabhgarh run by coach Rakesh Thakur. That changed Narwal’s life and he instantly developed a keen interest in the sport and started doing practice regularly.
But at that time he did not know about Paralympic Games and he was practising and competing with other athletes for fun. His talent was spotted by coach Jai Prakash Nautiyal and Narwal won an individual gold in P1 Air Pistol SH1 event in the 2017 Bangkok World Cup. Before that, he won gold medal in P1 and silver in P4 in 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta. The 39-year-old Adana, who had won the bronze in the P1 men’s 10m air pistol SH1 event on Tuesday, added a silver to his kitty with an effort of 216.7 as India continued its medal rush in the sport.
With his feat, Adana, who competes with polio-impaired lower limbs, joins the elite list of Indians who have won multiple medals in the same edition of the Games. ”Every shot is very difficult. One shot is very important, so my coach every time says ’Singhraj, Manish, only one shot, one shot fired’,” Adana said of the final shoot-off between he and Narwal.
”The final was very difficult. I decided (when I was) in third position, Singhraj, good, please, stop, breathe, stop, OK. And one shot, only one shot, please. No other thought, my mind is slow. And go again.” On the trilby hat he wore during the final, Adana said, ”My hat is a gift from my wife, so my very lucky hat.” Adana belongs to a humble family at Faridabad. His grandfather took part in the country’s freedom movement and served in the British Indian Army during the second world war. Adana’s father Prem Singh is a farmer and social worker. Adana participated in various social causes like education for the poor and rights of the disabled at a very young age. He took interest in shooting at the age of 35 while he was escorting his nephew to a shooting range. Instantly, he got impressed and took up the sport.
He used to journey up and down between home and the shooting range for 40 kilometers every day. National coach Subhash Rana took him under his supervision. During the lockdown, desperate to resume training, Adana built a shooting range at his home after drawing its layout in just one night. Shooter Avani Lekhara, who won a gold and bronze in the ongoing Games and Joginder Singh Sodhi, who fetched one silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics, are the other two Indians who have achieved the feat.
Narwal had a sluggish start and was in danger of being eliminated after shots of 7.7 and 8.3 but the teenager from Faridabad held his nerve. On the other hand, Adana was off to a flying start, leading the proceedings after 10 shots but slipped in the middle.
However, both Indians upped their games when it mattered the most, edging out the challenge of two Chinese shooters and Sergey to go against each other for the gold medal. In the final series, Narwal shot 8.4 and 9.1 while Adana finished with 8.5 and 9.4.
Earlier, Adana qualified at fourth place with a total of 536 while Narwal shot 533 to qualify at seventh. The other Indian in the fray, Akash finished 27th in the qualifying round.
Narwal has also won gold medal with world record in P4 and silver in P4 team event in 2021 Para Shooting World Cup in the UAE. He also won three bronze medals in P1 and P4 (individual and team) in 2019 Sydney Para Shooting World Championships. His other achievements include gold in P1, P4 and P6 team events and silver in P1 in 2019 Osijek World Cup in Croatia.
Adana won a gold in P1 team event and a silver medal in P4 individual event at 2019 Al Ain World Cup in the UAE, two gold in P1, P4 team events and two bronze medals in P4 individual and P6 team events in 2019 Osijek World Cup. He also won gold in P1, silver in P4 team event and bronze in P4 individual event in 2021 Al Ain World Cup in UAE.
Indian shooters have claimed a haul of five medals, including two gold, in the ongoing Games. As the pistol is held with one hand only, athletes in SH1 category have an impairment affecting one arm and/or the legs, for example resulting from amputations or spinal cord injuries. P4 is a classification for the mixed 50m air pistol competition. Some shooters compete in a seated position, while others take aim in a standing position as defined in the rules.
(Edited by : Anshul)
First Published: IST