The shooter who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics is all set to tie the knot with Commonwealth Games gold medallist pistol shooter Annu Raj Singh. The wedding ceremony, which will be held at a city hotel in Hyderabad on 21 April, is expected to be a private one.
Both Gagan and Annu, who belongs to Faridabad and currently lives in Aligarh, have known each other for two decades, since they were part of the Indian shooting contingent, from different disciplines — Annu is an air pistol shooter while Gagan is a riffle shooter, which would, according to Gagan, is as different as a bike and a car.
Incidentally, though neither one popped the proverbial question first, Annu had apparently been interested in the 2006 World Cup Gold Medallist for a long time. “But I was focused on my academy and the sport and took some time to decide,” he explains, but not before adding that the best thing that struck him about Annu was her simplicity. “Her approach to things is always positive.”
Even as neither Gagan nor Annu made that much-needed first move, providence decided to make it for them. “We’ve known each other for a long time, and as such, we know the ins and outs about each other,” explains Gagan.
“We’ve seen each other’s highs and lows, both professionally and personally. Our families too, meet often. But last year when my mother wasn’t feeling well Annu came down all the way from Aligarh to Hyderabad to take care of her.”
Then, during last year’s lockdown, when everything came to a standstill, Gagan and Annu sat down to consider where their lives were headed. In the meanwhile, his mum began dropping hints of having a daughter-in-law like her, too. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“I too felt the same, although it was more of a passing thought. But eventually it was my mum’s call, and I endorsed it. So it was like a partial arranged marriage too,” reveals the soon-to-be groom.
But had Gagan got his way around it, he’d have happily further delayed the marriage. “But my parents are growing old, and they’ve been insisting on my marriage,” he says, adding that the wedding had got postponed last year owing to the COVID-19 situation. “But we think now is the right time.”
Interestingly, this year was to be a packed schedule for Gagan, who is currently on a break from his work in Air India to prepare for his upcoming tournaments. However, as per the latest news from him, the COVID situation has ensured that his domestic calendar of tournaments stands cancelled. The National Federation is expected to roll out the calendar itinerary only after the Olympics set to take place in July 2021.]
Exciting, overwhelming and surreal
Once both Annu and Gagan’s families decided on the wedding, one of Gagan’s first thoughts, he tells us, was how they’d go about to preparing for the wedding and how it will all happen.
“She and I’ve been dillydallying on whether to hold the marriage in Delhi or Hyderabad. But we eventually zeroed in on the latter,” shares Gagan who further reveals that the wedding will be an intimate one held in a traditional manner.
While the pre-wedding festivities haven’t kicked off yet, arrangements such as sending out invitations, preparing the guest list and shopping has been on in full swing. But the excitement is catching up, as also all the butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings.
“The family is all excited as I am about to start a new chapter of my life, but yes, the thought of getting married is a bit overwhelming and surreal too,” adds Gagan with a chuckle.
Not ones to be left behind, Gagan’s friends have also started adding to the feel of the new phase setting into his life. For starters, they haven’t quit teasing Gagan about getting married. “Post marriage, don’t wait long hours till late night for your fiancé,” some of them say as they tease him.
“Several of my friends in the academy tell me that life changes after marriage and they can’t stop pulling my leg, so it’s all a new experience,” he adds with a smile.
All the harmless teasing and jostling aside, how is the rifle-shooting marksman preparing for his married life? The innocence of his anticipation for what life is waiting to bring him surely makes us smile as we wish him the best.
“Annu and I complement and support each other well and we have been friends too, and we don’t have to necessarily speak to communicate — we can even understand by gestures. And it surely makes life together slightly easier having a partner who’s also into sports. It’ll definitely help when it comes to preparation, having the right frame of mind before a tournament, being familiar with the hectic yet erratic schedules of sportsperson, as against normal partners who might find it difficult to understand these things. As for married life, I think everything has to be shared, so I am making a few adjustments in my house like cleaning half the cupboard for her clothes, packing, etc.,” says the shooter.