Teen pistol shooting star Saurabh Chaudhary stayed true to expectations to give India its first final on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
The 19-year-old topped the qualification of the men’s 10m air pistol with a composed performance in a highly competitive field comprising of multiple world and Olympic champions in Chinese shooters Pang Wei, Zhang Bowen and Serbian Damir Mikec.
However, there was heartbreak for Abhishek Verma, the second shooter in the fray, who missed out by a narrow margin and ended up 17th.
Chaudhary scored a total of 586/600 (28 x inner 10s) points in the qualification, including a superb series of perfect 100. He had three 9s in his final series, but his 23 straight tens from series 3 to series 5 ensured his score was enough to reach the final at the top of the charts.
Verma finished with a total of 575 as two 9s and two 8s in the final series cost him dearly.
It was not an easy qualification round as stalwarts Artem Chernousov and Jin Jongoh missed out on the final.
Chaudhary, an Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist, started in an excellent fashion, shooting 5 10s before slipping in the second part of the first series.
The 19-year-old multiple World Cup gold-medallist then rallied from the 19th place, in a field of 36, to inch closer to the top eight qualifying spots. Once inside the safe zone, Chaudhary continued to sizzle and scored a perfect 100 with a 10 out of 10 after back-to-back 98s.
Verma started with a 94 and after being behind, got his act together and continued his march up the leaderboard until two 8s and as many 9s in the last series did him in.
In the 10m air pistol qualification, each shooter fires six series of 10 shots each with the top eight qualifying based on cumulative scores.
Chaudhary and Verma have been by far the two best air pistol shooters in the world over the past three years, with both taking turns to be world number one.
With PTI Inputs
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