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Gagan Narang, Pankaj Advani, Anju Bobby George open up on events that shaped their careers
New Delhi, October 22, 2020
If, for London Olympics medalist Gagan Narang, the World Cup in 2008 was a redemption tournament, the 23-time World Billiards/Snooker title holder Pankaj Advani remembers the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou as an event in which he came under tremendous pressure to win gold for the country.
Former long jumper Anju Bobby George, the first Indian to win a bronze medal at the World Championships in athletics, displayed steely determination to come back from a career-threatening leg injury early on in her career.
The champion sportspersons recalled these events and situations that impacted and inspired them to lift their game to a different level altogether when he or she is competing at the highest level.
Gagan Narang, Pankaj Advani and Anju Bobby George went down memory lane to narrate the happenings in the first three episodes of “The A- Game”, hosted by Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu, conceptualized and produced by sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures and presented by Visa.
Narang, an Olympic, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games medalist, holds the world record for shooting a perfect 600 in the 10m air rifle event.
He said in the first episode "The A-Game" that the World Cup in 2008 was a redemption tournament for him.
“The shooting World Cup in 2008 was like the redemption tournament for me as I had come out of a lot of adversity. My mom was hospitalized and I had to take care of my home and family both. It was a very very challenging situation for me and I am glad that with the support system, I could overcome this hurdle and shoot a world record,” he said.
According to the shooter, "sport teaches you to handle success and failure with equal amounts of grace. When you are winning, you don’t need anyone because you are doing absolutely what you need to do, which is winning.
"But it’s when you lose you actually go back to the drawing board and write everything down. Reiterate, refigure what has to happen and what can you learn from them and do better. I have personally learned a lot more from my failures than success because when you fail you can actually go back, think and transform yourself for the better,” he added.
In the second episode, Advani, who is a 23-time World champion in billiards and snooker, said that his motivation has been winning medals for the country on the biggest stages.
"When I was 21, I felt like the Asian Games was a different platform. There was loads of pressure because not only people from your fraternity are watching you, but the entire sporting world, especially the continent, the Indian officials, the IOA, everybody has their eyes on you and the game, because they want every game to get as many medals as they can," he said.
However India was struggling to put medals on the board in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
"I knew that we had won a lot of bronzes and silvers, but I didn't know that this was going to be the first gold medal for India (in the competition). So that pressure was not on me luckily, but the pressure of winning a gold and defending my gold medal at the Asian Games, because I had won the gold in the 2006 Asian Games, was definitely weighing heavily on me.
"When I was at 62 points and I needed 38 more points, I made a very simple mistake and I felt maybe this could be very costly. And then I had the final blow and this time I wanted to compose myself and take a little time and sure enough I crossed the finish line," said the 35-year-old.
Anju George recalled how the doctors told her that she shouldn't imagine about jumping again because her leg was completely gone and she will not be even able to walk.
"Then I realized something is happening inside me. I can say that some inner fire was burning inside me. I just wanted to show the world, how much I can do or till where I can reach," said Anju .
The long jumper made history at the IAAF World Championships in Paris in 2003, but she faced a major issue in the finals.
"Someone took my check mark. I was doing some drama before the jump. I had to start from a blind spot, but somehow, I managed a 6.70 jump and it was a bronze. There was a lot of drama, but we got the medal," she added.