Saurabh hits the bullseye

A RARE DOUBLE: Gold medallist Saurabh Chaudhary (left) and bronze medallist Abhishek Verma display their spoils in Palembang on Tuesday. BOTTOM: Veteran Sanjeev Rajput won silver in the 50M rifle event. REUTERS/PTI

Teen sensation Saurabh Chaudhary pulled off a stunning coup to win the gold medal in men’s 10m air pistol as India enjoyed a bright day at the shooting range in Palembang on Tuesday.

Saurabh, just 16, showed nerves of steel in a field that featured vastly experienced shooters to come out on top at the very end. Making it even more special, Abhishek Verma won the bronze medal in the same event, a first time India were having two medalists in the same event.

Later in the afternoon, veteran Sanjeev Rajput shot down the silver in 50M rifle three-position, India’s sixth medal in shooting at these Games.

After topping the qualification with a 586, Saurabh was in silver medal position behind Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda for the better part of the final. Into the final two shots of elimination, Matsuda led by 0.4 point but he faltered with an 8.9 and 10.3 in the final two shots while Saurabh shot 10.2 and 10.4 to end victor by a one-point margin.

His final score of 240.7 was a Games record while Abhishek’s bronze came at 219.3. The 29-year-old Abhishek had started shooting as a hobby only three years ago and made the Asiad team ahead of the likes of Jitu Rai.

The enormity of Saurabh’s success could be gauged from the field he was up against in the final. Jin Jongoh, South Korea’s pistol ace and four-time Olympic champion was among the favourites but he was eliminated early and ended fifth. Matsuda is a two-time world champion and Lee Damyung, also of South Korea, was an Asian Games champion in 2010.

One does not know whether the youngster from Uttar Pradesh was aware of these facts but even if he did, he went about his task in a no-nonsense manner. After the first competition stage in the final, Saurabh was second behind Matsuda, with Abhishek in third position.

As the elimination started, Matsuda maintained the lead with the Indians holding on to second and third positions. Unsteady at the start, Saurabh pulled himself to strike a note of consistency as the series progressed and one by one his opponents fell away.

Abhishek was the last to be eliminated, leaving Matsuda and Saurabh to fight it out. The 42-year-old Japanese cracked first, leaving the Indian teen on top in his first major competition.

Strong qualifying

In the qualifying round, Saurabh’s 586 had placed him ahead of Jin Jongoh, who shot a 584. Abhishek, on the other hand, qualified sixth with 580.

In 50M rifle three-positions, Rajput, who qualified in seventh position with a 1160, was in lead at the start of the elimination round in final. But an 8.4 pushed him to second spot behind China’s Hui Zicheng and that is how it stayed right till the end. Zicheng shot 453.3 and Rajput 452.7. Japan’s Takayuki Matsumota won the bronze at 441.4.

Lakshay-Shreyasi in final

India’s Lakshay Sheoran and Shreyasi Singh made the final of the mixed trap event but finished sixth with a score of 16.

 

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Saurabh hits the bullseye

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