NEW DELHI: His parents' decision to take the road less travelled has gone a long way in helping shooter Gagan Narang realise his Olympic dream, and the London Games bronze winner now plans to take his prized medal on a countrywide tour to inspire the next generation.
"I want my medal to travel across the country so that it inspires the coming generation," Narang said on Thursday.
The ace marksman, who clinched a bronze in the 10m air rifle event, in fact, wants his medal to be touched by the country's 1.2 billion people.
It was while coming back from the Royal Artillery Barracks to the Games Village after his moment of glory, that the idea hit upon him.
"I was coming back by bus after winning the medal. I saw the Olympics' motto -- Inspire A Generation -- and that's when I thought about it. Olympics belongs to the country, and I want to inspire," the 29-year-old shooter from Hyderabad told reporters.
It is by now a well documented fact that the Narangs years ago had to sell off a plot of land to help their son buy a rifle.
"There was a time when my parents had to sell off a plot of land so that I can buy a rifle for competitive tournaments. After that we stayed in a rented house for the next 15 years," an emotional Narang said.
Narang was felicitated by the Manav Rachna International University, where he is pursuing an MBA degree, for his exploits in London.
He was conferred the Manav Rachna Kirti Puraskar besides being awarded with Rs 11 lakh.
After winning innumerable medals on the world stage, the only thing missing in Narang's overflowing cupboard before the London Games was an Olympic medal. And the triumph in the world's biggest sporting event does give him a sense of achievement.
"It feels complete. The love and affection of the people, it's a humbling experience. It's a good feeling to be able to bring smiles on the faces of people," said Narang.
"When kids come to me and say that I want to be like you, older people coming and hugging me and saying that we are proud of you. The blood and tears and hard work... everything is worth it.
"For Indian sports it marks a new era. Those who missed out narrowly (in London) will come back strongly in Rio (2016 Games)," Narang said.
The pain of missing out on the finals in the Beijing Games has haunted Narang for long, and he was relieved to have overcome it.
"I had the pain inside me. I was fighting my own demons, I am happy that I have put the demons to sleep forever," Narang, who plans to start training in a few weeks' time to prepare for the World Cup in October, said.
He said like cricket, other sports should also strive to make a shift from classes to masses.
"To compare Olympic sport with cricket would not be fair. Years back cricket was a sport only for the classes and we will also have to make other sports masses from classes like cricket. Only then will six medals get to 15."
Narang further stated, "The culture of sport has to grow in the country. We need to have sporting schools everywhere, all across the country."
As far as comparison with China is concerned, he said, "China has more depth, we can't compare with them. We should (ideally) have 100 Sushil Kumars, 100 Vijay Kumars, 50 Vijenders. More than 1 crore people play sport in China.
"The competition should be more intense in India." Narang also has plans to discuss with the sports ministry ways to uplifting infrastructure in the country.
"The government, the ministry have done a lot, the media has also done a lot and it would not have been possible without your support. But a lot more needs to be done."
Narang also reiterated that sports should be made a part of the school curriculum.