India continued its golden run at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, with teenager Saurabh Chaudhary grabbing a gold medal and shattering the World Record at the 10m air pistol event. Following in the footsteps of Apurvi Chandela who won gold in the 10m air rifle event yesterday, Saurabh led the competition from the beginning to end to add a World Cup gold to his already impressive resume. The icing in the cake for Saurabh was helping India gain an all-important Olympic quota place for Tokyo 2020; India’s third one in shooting after Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil had bagged a couple in the World Championships at Changwon last year.
After missing out on the Olympic quotas at the World Championships in Changwon last year, India had high hopes from the 10m air pistol contingent. The qualification stages began with Asian Games bronze medalist Abhishek Verma and debutant Ravinder Singh missing out on the finals. However, the story was completely different for 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary who dominated the competition from the beginning, even shooting a perfect 100 in his second series. The boy from Uttar Pradesh finished the qualification stages in the third position with a score of 587.
The final stage of the competition boasted of an experienced field of shooters, Saurabh being the youngest among them competing in his first World Cup Final. Not one to be intimidated, Saurabh kept his calm and shared the lead with Mikec Damir of Serbia after the first series of 5 shots. However, consistent shooting above the 10 point mark ensured that he soon broke away from the rest of the pack. By the end of the second series, he had a lead of 2.6 points and it was evident that the gold medal was more or less assured for India. The utter dominance of Saurabh was portrayed in his final score of 245.0, which was 5.7 points better than the Serbian who finished in the silver medal position.
With an enthusiastic home crowd cheering him behind his back, Saurabh kept on increasing his lead and soon the World record was in his sights. The 16-year-old teen prodigy broke the world record by a whopping 1.4 points.
However, breaking world records is not something new for this young shooter.
He already held the junior final world record with a score of 245.5 which he had achieved in the World Championships at Changwon last year. In fact, his junior world record score was a staggering 1.9 points more than the previous senior world record.
To add to his already impressive resume of a Youth Olympics Gold, Asian Games gold and a Junior World Championship Gold, Saurabh now has a gold medal at the World Cup in his first attempt as well.
With the Olympics just around a year away, he will certainly be looking to add that to his kitty as well.
The news from other events of the World Cup at Delhi was not as cheerful as this, however. In the 50m rifle three positions event, Parul Kumar and Sanjeev Rajput finished at 22nd and 25th positions respectively; both of them failing to make it through to the final rounds of the competition. Hopes were high from India’s other teenage shooting prodigy, Manu Bhaker as well. In the 25m pistol event, she finished in the second position after the qualification with an impressive score of 590. However, after a disappointing seventh series in the final where she could only hit the target twice; she finished in the fifth position. The competition is not yet over for Manu, though, as she is also competing in the 10m air pistol event.