Saurabh-Manu pair nails gold

India's Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker with their gold medals after winning the 10m air pistol mixed team event at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

The teenaged pair of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker put up an impressive show to clinch gold in the 10m pistol mixed pair event on the final day of the ISSF Shooting World Cup at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range on Wednesday.

India signed off with one Olympic quota place and three gold medals. The hosts jointly topped the medal tally with Hungary. It was Saurabh’s second gold medal after picking one in 10m air pistol which also gave India a quota place. Apurvi Chandela finished at the top in women’s 10m air rifle.

However, in the rifle mixed event, the team of Apurvi-Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil-Ravi Kumar couldn’t make the final.

Going into the final, Saurabh, 16, and Manu, 17, equalled the world record and broke the junior world record during qualification with a score of 778.

In the five-team final, the two 2018 Youth Olympic champions began a bit slow but picked up on time to race ahead with 483 points. They two left behind the Chinese pair of Jiang Ranxin and Zhang Bowe (477.7) and South Korea’s Kim Minjung and Park Daehun (418.8).

The event doesn’t offer an Olympic quota but it brought plenty of cheers for the home fans, who were left disappointed with India’s barren run in the last couple of days.

The gold also came as a relief to Manu who has had a rough run in the tournament. The 2018 Commonwealth Games champion was left in tears following her fifth-place finish in the 25m pistol. It also impacted her performance in the 10m air pistol where she couldn’t make the final.

Manu said the gold in mixed pistol event has given her the hope of doing well in the coming events. “Not a big relief, but satisfaction," Manu said. "Now that I have won a medal, it builds hope I can do better next time. I put effort in my event but I didn’t get the results. But the next day I was confident that I can do well.”

The two believe they learn in each other’s company. “Saurabh's mindset is a lot different from mine in shooting. He never loses hope. He is always positive, always says 'hum kar sakte hain' (we can do it). He doesn't speak much otherwise,” Manu said.

Saurabh, always frugal with words, chimed in: “She is a good shooter. I get to learn a lot from her.”

The joy for Saurabh doubled as he shot gold in front of his coach and mentor Amit Sheoran. “I got a lot of confidence because my guru was with me. What could be better," he said.

 

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