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Asian Games

Bhaker, Vihan, and Chaudhary: The teenagers taking Indonesia by storm

Bhaker, Vihan, and Chaudhary: The teenagers taking Indonesia by storm

Akshat Mehrish

Published: 23 Aug 2018 9:58 AM GMT
The Jakarta and Palembang Asian Games provided a lot of promise, even before they began. India had sent one of their biggest contingents to the Indonesian cities and the hopes were high after a stellar performance at the Commonwealth Games. Particular events such as Wrestling, Weightlifting, and Boxing were singled out as India's best chance at Asiad medals. Another such event was Shooting. The Indian Shooting contingent had proven to be one of the best in Gold Coast, four months earlier, as they won a total of sixteen medals. Several new shooters came to the fore during the CWG, cementing a place of their own, amongst the elite. Manu Bhaker was one of those.

Manu Bhaker 

Big things were expected of Manu Bhaker even before the pan-Asian games began. The youngster entered the competition with a big reputation, after enjoying a breakout year. Bhaker started her year by participating in the inaugural Khelo India School Games. The youngster was one of the star performers of the tournament, a feat she would go on to repeat throughout the year. The Jhajjar-born shooter really cemented herself as a fan-favourite after her heroics at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bhaker shot her way to a Gold medal at CWG, finishing ahead of many of her more experienced competitors. As a result, going into the Asian Games, Bhaker was expected to produce her magic yet again. Her tournament began with a little stumble, as she and her partner Abhishek Verma were eliminated from the 10m Air Pistol event. However, the youngster soon redeemed herself by breaking the qualifying Games Record in the 25m Pistol qualifiers. Her total score of 593 was just one short of the World Record as well. However, Bhaker couldn't achieve the same feat in the final, as she finished sixth.

Saurabh Chaudhary

While Bhaker was known to the Indian fans watching, Chaudhary came out of nowhere. The 16-year-old shooter was relatively unknown before the Games began but soon found his way into the heart's of many Indians by winning a Gold medal. The Meerut-born youngster was taking part in the 10m Air Rifle event alongside compatriot Abhishek Verma. While Verma proved his critics wrong by winning the Bronze medal, Chaudhary announced his arrival on the big stage. Chaudhary's selection for the Asian Games, ahead of known shooters Jitu Rai and Om Mitharval, raised quite a few eyebrows. The Junior World Cup winner, however, proved beyond all doubt that he was the right man for the occasion.

Shardul Vihan

15-year-old Shardul Vihan was also an unknown name when he took to the shooting range on August 23. The youngster was competing in the Men's Double Trap category. The teenager first shocked the crowd by qualifying for the final on top of the charts. Vihan shot a total of 141 in qualifying, two better than his closest competition. He returned later on in the day for the final and once again showed his skills by making it to the very end. He then went toe-to-toe with South Korea's Shin Hyunwoo but ultimately landed in the second spot after a total score of 73. Vihan continued the trend of teenagers performing brilliantly in Shooting and gave a glimpse of what can be expected from his future.
Moving away from shooting, there were several other good performances from young Indian superstars. Teenager Srihari Nataraj gave India hope for the future of swimming, as he broke two National Records in two days. He even qualified for the Final of his event (100m Backstroke) but was beaten by his more experienced opponents. Elsewhere, Naorem Roshibina Devi confirmed another medal for the nation by qualifying for the Wushu Sansa semifinal. With several more young superstars, such as flag-bearer Neeraj Chopra, still, to enter the fray, one thing is certain- The future of Indian sports is in safe hands.
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