3. Vijay Kumar
Hailing from a small village in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh, Vijay Kumar shot to fame at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning the Gold in the Singles as well as the Pairs category of the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event and also won the bronze in the same event at the Asian Games, that were held in Doha that year.
He further enhanced his reputation at the 2009 ISSF World Championships in Beijing, where he clinched the bronze and carried that form into the 2010 Commonwealth Games, winning a second successive Gold in the Singles as well as pairs category of the 25m Rapid Pistol Fire and winning a silver and a bronze in the 25m centre-field pistol singles and pairs respectively.
He continued his good run in 2010, by winning the bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in the 25m Centre Fire Pistol category and then won his second straight silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Fort Benning in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol category.
But a year later the 30-year-old scaled the biggest high of his career so far, by winning the silver at the 2012 London Olympics in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event. Along with wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who won a bronze himself, he was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2012. 48 months later, Vijay won yet another silver at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
With such spectacular feats in the past few years, much will be expected out of him as he gears up for the 2016 Olympics next year.
Gagan Narang first burst onto the scene, when he won the Gold at the Afro-Asian Games, that were held in Hyderabad in 2003. Despite having a poor Athens Olympics, where he failed to qualify for the finals, the Chennai-born shooter made a sterling comeback at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning 4 Gold medals- 2 in the 10m Air Rifle event and 2 in 50m 3 Position event. His 2006 then got even better, when he secured a bronze each in the 10m Air Rifle team category and the 50m 3 Positions individual and team category respectively.
He qualified for the finals of the 2008 World Cup, after winning a gold in the World Cup earlier in the year, where he created the universe record, courtesy his perfect score of 600 in the qualification round and 103.5 in the finals.
However, the Olympic medal continued to Gagan as he failed to qualify for the finals again in the Beijing Games in 2008, but despite that disappointment continued to put in good performances, winning the silver in the 10m Air Rifle event in both the individual and team category at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. For his excellent achievements, Gagan was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2011.
His watershed moment finally arrived 2 years at the London Olympics, where he clinched the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle event. That meal was the first of India’s 6 medals at the Summer Games that year.
Following his bronze win at London, Gagan won a silver in the 50m Rifle Prone category and a bronze in the 50m Rifle 3 Position category. With the Rio Games next year, also expected to be his final Olympics, one can hope for Gagan to put in his best forward and hopefully, win successive medals in the Summer GamesPublished 20 May 2015, 12:45 IST