Indian shooters continued to add to the medal tally, with 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary bagging gold with a stunning display in the final of the 10m air pistol event at the 18th Asian Games, taking the country’s gold medal tally to 3.
What makes his achievement so special is that this was the first senior international for Chaudhary, who took up the sport just three years ago. As part of his preparations for the Games, he opted to train with the seniors to get the feel of competition against the seniors and it definitely helped.
Chaudhary, son of a farmer based in Kalina Village in Meerut, aggregated 240.7. The 42-year-old Matsuda from Japan misfired on the 23rd shot, an 8.9, to finish second. He scored 239.7. Chaudhary also set a Games record with his sensational effort. His last two shots were a 10.2 and 10.4, giving him the decisive lead. The Japanese’s last two shots were an 8.9 and 10.3.
Expectations were high from Chaudhary as he had broken the world record on way to winning a gold in the Junior World Cup in Germany a couple of months ago. But not many thought that he would emulate the golden feat achieved by the likes of Jaspal Rana, Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi at such a young.
“I did not feel any pressure,” said Chaudhary, who picked up the sport only three years ago when asked about the competition that included Matsuda and Jin Jingoh from South Korea, the multiple-time Olympic and world champion.
He did not show any sign of nerves even in the qualification held earlier in the day, bossing it with a 586. Jongoh was second in the qualification while Verma finished sixth.
Chaudhary, a student of class XI, will be off to the World Championships after the Games.
He learnt the tricks of the trade at Amit Sheoran’s academy at Benoli near Baghpat, 53 kilometers from Meerut. Whenever he is home, he helps his father in the farming business.
“I like farming. We don’t get much time off from training but whenever I do, I go back to my Village (Kalina) and help my father,” said Chaudhary.
Here is a brief description of India’s first gold medallist on the shooting range in this edition of the Games.
Date of Birth: May 11, 2002
Event at Asian Games: Men’s 10m air pistol
Past performance (if any): N/A
Best performance so far: Gold, ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl in 2018
Brief Description: A talented junior shooter, the Asian Games will be Saurabh Chaudhary’s first big test at the senior level. In the last one year, the teenager from Uttar Pradesh has done well at the national level, holding his own among veteran pistol shooters, and has notched up impressive numbers on the international junior circuit.
In December 2017, Chaudhary qualified for the Youth Olympics Games with a gold medal and a junior world record at 10th Asia Youth Olympics Games qualification. He became the third Indian to bag quota places for the 2018 Youth Games at the qualification tournament in Wako City, Japan.
At the KSS Shooting Championship in 2017, the then 15-year-old beat Jitu Rai in the 10m air pistol final, after getting silver medals in the junior and youth event on the same day.
At the 2017 World Junior Championship, he was part of the Indian team that won the bronze, while he finished fourth in the individual team.
In 2018, he bagged the gold in 10m air pistol with a junior world record score at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl in Germany. The 15-year-old shot a superb 243.7 in the final, breaking the world record of 242.5 held by Chinese shooter Wang Zhehao. At the same event, he won the mixed team gold with Devanshi Rana, ahead of compatriots Manu Bhaker and Anmol Jain.
He went on to clinch the junior men’s air pistol gold in the 28th Meeting of Shooting Hopes International championship in Plzen and then won the mixed silver with Devanshi Rana.
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