Road to Rio: Against all odds, shooter Prakash Nanjappa set to make Olympic debut at 40

Name: Prakash Nanjappa

Age: 40

Discipline: Shooting

Category: 50m Pistol

Qualification: Prakash Nanjappa earned a quota place for Rio Olympics 2016 after finishing eighth in the finals of 50-metre men's pistol event at the 2015 ISSF World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan.

Strengths: Prakash Nanjappa is an experienced campaigner, who has displayed his indomitable spirit on several occasions. He has battled lack of financial support, a paralytic attack, eye problems and age to make it thus far and will be making his Olympic debut at 40. This determination and resilience will be his greatest strength in the quest for an Olympic medal.

Past Olympic performance: Debut

Past record: Silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
-Bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon (Team)
-Bronze medal in the 2016 ISSF World Cup in Korea
-Bronze medal in the 2013 Changwon World Cup

Rio Prospects: Prakash Nanjappa has had a good run of form in the last couple of years, with medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games and if he can maintain his focus, he can be considered as a medal prospect in the often unpredictable sport of  shooting.

 Road to Rio: Against all odds, shooter Prakash Nanjappa set to make Olympic debut at 40

Prakash Nanjappa. CNN News18

Prakash Nanjappa's story is nothing short of inspirational — he is a late bloomer who battled all odds to reach the Olympics. The 40-year-old will be the oldest Indian shooter to make an Olympic debut, and his road to Rio has been strewn with obstacles, both on and off the shooting range, often too big to overcome.

Nanjappa won a bronze medal in the 2013 ISSF World Cup in Changwon, South Korea, becoming the first Indian pistol shooter to win a World Cup medal. However, this triumph was short-lived as he suffered a paralytic attack in the right side of his face later in the same year, when he was on his way to Spain for another World Cup.

For a shooter to suffer from paralysis in the face is as good as curtains on his career. But Nanjappa did not give up, he recovered and made a comeback the next year and went on to win the silver medal in the 50-metre pistol event in the Asian Air Gun Championship in Tehran.

The paralysis wasn't the first obstacle in the shooter's path. Even before his career started, he had to give it up due to lack of financial support.  The engineer by profession moved to Canada and landed a job with a MNC in Toronto. However, the Bangalore boy was inspired to return to shooting by his father PN Papanna, a national-level shooter himself. It was his father who had prompted him to take up the sport in the first place.

In 2008, Nanjappa started shooting again and took part in the Canadian national championships. And that's when he had his first major achievement as he he scored 575 points to equal Canada’s national record, according to his profile on Olympic Gold Quest. He then quit his job and returned to India, taking up shooting full time and since then he hasn't looked back.

2014 — a year after his recovery — was among the best years for him. He entered the finals of two world cups in 2014 in the 10m Air Pistol event. He followed it up with a silver medal at he 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and a team bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

At 40, Nanjappa will be making his Olympic debut and he is sure to leave no stone unturned to ensure he makes a mark. He might not get another shot at Olympic glory, but if he can maintain his focus and put in his best performance to date in Rio, he can bring home another shooting medal.

With inputs from agenices

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2016 21:44:37 IST