Saurabh has monk-like composure: Coach Sheoran

Saurabh has monk-like composure: Coach Sheoran

India's Saurabh Chaudhary. AFP

When Saurabh Chaudhary announced his decision to pursue shooting, it took his family by surprise. For a farmer’s family in Kalina village of Meerut district, shooting was an expensive sport. The nearest shooting academy was 33km away in Baghpat district. Saurabh was firm. The family turned supportive as he sought the guidance of Amit Sheoran, a former state-level shooter. What more, Sheoran lent his air pistol too.

There were not more than two weapons at the range, and the budding shooters would have to take turns to shoot or practice with dummy pistols. The modest range had a tin shed, under which the Sheoran’s wards would train. It never served as a deterrent. “Though Meerut has several shooting ranges, Saurabh (then 13) chose to train with me in 2014. I had started the range in 2011 and it had bare minimum facilities. It was a 10m air shooting range for both pistol and rifle kept together with bricks and tin shed. My forte was pistol,” Sheoran said.

“Saurabh is a very quiet guy with a monk-like composure. His biggest strength has been his concentration and hard work. During summers, it would get very hot by noon under the tin shed. All other kids would leave, but Saurabh would be practicing alone. He would never complain. Within a year, he had won the national competition and by 2016 he had become an international shooter,”

Nitin recalled how Saurabh’s demand for an air-pistol put their father Jagmohan Singh in a spot of bother. “But we collected money from various places to buy his air pistol and pellets costing Rs 1.75 lakh. It was very tough for us, but seeing how serious Saurabh was about shooting, we supported him. Initially, we all wondered why shooting, he could pursue a sport less expensive. But he was adamant. Today everyone is celebrating his gold medal, what could be a bigger joy,” said Nitin, who is appearing for his SSC exam.

Ronak Pandit, who is the pistol coach and manager of the Indian shooting team, was appreciative of Saurabh, who attended two camps with the senior team before the Asian Games. “I got to see him for only 4-5 weeks during the senior camp. It was a mature decision for a 16-year-old which helped him. That he was making his debut and had no expectations worked to his advantage. Now we need to support him, get him the exposure. He should be a candidate for getting an Olympic quota for us next year,” Pandit told DH from Palembang.