Shooting wasn’t his first choice but a decision of his father. And Manish Narwal followed that decision diligently to make it his passion, only to make history for his country India years after.
“My right bodyside is not completely functional, which is the reason why my father considered shooting as the best sport for me to maintain,” Narwal told in an interview. “It can be done with only one hand, which suits me very well.”
Last September, Narwal became the Paralympic champion in the mixed P4 – 50m pistol SH1 setting a Paralympic record on the way, at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
In the recent past, podium visits have a become a regular for the Indian shooting star. In July 2022, he helped his country achieve its best-ever result in a shooting Para sport international event at the Munich 2022 World Cup.
Narwal clinched three gold medals in team events, in the P1 – men’s 10m air pistol SH1 (alongside Singhraj and Nihal Singh), P4 – mixed 50m pistol SH1 (again with Singhraj and Deepender Singh) and in the P6 – mixed team 10m pistol SH1 (alongside Rubina Francis).
Despite all the success, the 20-year-old is always ready for a new challenge staying focused in his training without a break.
“The career of a shooting Para athlete is full of celebrations and success, but it also comes with difficulties. You cannot expect to just train hard and be the winner all the time,” Narwal said.
“Sometimes there are phases where you struggle and feel down, which can be quite a challenge to overcome.”
This is the part of the sport that fascinates the young athlete the most. Narwal believes it is what makes shooting interesting and unique. By dealing with different struggles in his career, he also feels prepared for the everyday life.
“If there are challenges in life you must keep your head up high and go on. This attitude is something that you can learn through shooting,” said the modest athlete from Faridabad in Haryana, located in the north-central part of the country.
Meditation key to success
Narwal, who practices four straight days with a one-day break, has included meditation as an important part of his training. He starts his day with a short meditation and ends with another meditation period in the evening.
Narwal’s dedication towards the sport at such a young age helped him make an instant impact had in the sport since he began shooting in 2016 in Ballabhgarh. A year later, he was already winning medals at World Cups.
“I don’t have one single person that I could point out as an idol in my life. I’m inspired by many people surrounding me, nevertheless if they are athletes as well or people I met in my everyday life,” Narwal said of his inspiration.
His next challenge will be the World Championships in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates held from 6 to 17 November, where the Indian shooter will be in search of his first Worlds title following two bronze medals at the Sydney 2019 Worlds in Australia.
India will have a 15-strong team in Al Ain 2022, including 10 male and five female athletes, looking to make a mark in the 12-day event.