All of 16, Saurabh Chaudhary, became the youngest and only the fifth Indian shooter to win an Asian Games gold medal on Tuesday when he overcame multiple world and Olympic champions to win the men’s 10m air pistol finals on Tuesday.
In the dramatic final, Chaudhary was 0.4 behind the first-placed Tomoyuki Matsuda but on the penultimate shot, the 42-year-old Japanese shot a poor 8.9 which gave the teenager the decisive lead. He then held his nerve and shot a steady 10.2 and 10.4 which gave him the gold with a Games record score of 240.7.
They were nervy final moments, a chance at gold in your first final at the senior level, at a stage as big as the Asian Games. It was a mark of Chaudhary’s maturity and grit that he didn’t let the occasion get to him and maintained his cool to hit scores of above 10.
“With two shots to go, I thought I had a silver medal but when the Japanese shooter shot (8.9) I knew I had the chance. It was a big stage for me, winning an Asian Games medal, but I knew that I couldn’t think of that, I had to focus on my shooting,” Chaudhary told Scroll.in from Indonesia.
What did the trick for the 16-year-old from Uttar Pradesh was the fact that he didn’t even think about the pressure. He was shooting next to two former world champions, silver medallist Matsuda and Korea’s Jin Jingoh, who is a four-time Olympic gold medallist and a World Cup gold winner in the final. But he didn’t think of the competition.
“I felt no pressure, I don’t think like that. I didn’t think of who I was shooting with, whether they were Olympic champions or world champions, I have to shoot my own game,” he added.
Asked what he told himself before the final, the reply was instant and insightful.
“I tell myself that I have to be normal, I have to treat the game and not make it a big deal. I have to do what I do in practice in the final as well,” the teenager said.
He was both relieved and happy after getting the gold. “I feel happy, it is my first senior final and my first senior medal. My parents are very happy as well,” the teen added.
His father is a farmer based in Kalina Village in Meerut district and he picked up the sport at Amit Sheoran’s academy at Benoli near Baghpat, 53 kilometers from Meerut. He started shooting three years ago and made his way into the Indian junior team. He holds the current junior world record in 10m pistol and has several medals in the last year on both the national and international circuit.
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