Why are shooters Saurabh Chaudhury and Manu Bhaker not pairing up at the ISSF President's Cup in mixed event?
A total of seven Indian shooters will be in action at the President's Cup in Wroclaw, Poland
A total of seven Indian shooters will be in action at the President's Cup in Wroclaw, Poland. This is the first time since the Tokyo Olympics that India's ace shooters like Saurabh Chaudhury, Manu Bhaker, Abhishek Verma and Rahi Sarnobat will be competing on the international stage.
The President's Cup is an invitational tournament conducted by the International Shooting Sports Federation, where the world's top 12 shooters in each category compete for medals.
The rules and participation regulations at the President's Cup is, however, not similar to that of Tokyo Olympics or Shooting World Cups. Ideally, in tournaments like the ISSF World Cups or ISSF World Championships, mixed teams for Air Pistol and Air Rifle participate according to their country. But in the President's Cup, the pairs will be drawn arbitrarily, with players from different countries partnering to finish on the podium. This rule will be applied in the Mixed Pistol event as well.
Due to this change of rule, India's most succesful mixed pair in Air Pistol event — Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhury — will not be participating as a team in the tournament.
In the individual 10m Air Pistol and 10m Air Rifle events, the top eight won't directly go into the final after the qualification round. Instead they will fight out in two groups of four players each in a semifinal. Those two who top their respective groups will advance to the final. There will also be a change in scoring system for these events.
On the other hand, in the 50m 3 positions event there will now be two qualification phases instead of one. Compared to the existing rule where top 8 made it to the final, now 10 shooters will make it to the second qualification phase and then eight will move to the final.
Why the Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Cahudhury pair is India's best
Both Saurabh and Manu have repeatedly proven themselves at the highest level and have won multiple international medals.
Having joined hands for the first time in the year 2019, the duo has gone on to win five gold medals in each of the five tournaments they have competed in.
Their first medal together came at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in February 2019. The duo then went on to win three more World Cup gold medals that year – Beijing in April 2019, Munich in May 2019, Rio in August 2019. The last of their five medals came during the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in March 2021.
In fact, the only tournament the duo did not compete together as a pair was the 2019 ISSF World Cup Finals in China, wherein Manu had paired with Russian Artem Chernousov to win the gold, while Saurabh, along with Olympic Champion Anna Korakaki, settled for a silver.
Not only have Saurabh and Manu won medals together, but the duo has jointly set some World Records as well. While they equalled the World Record score of 483.4 en route in the final of their first-ever event together in New Delhi, they broke the qualification record with a score of 784 the following month in the Asian Airgun Championships in Chinese Taipei.
Despite being deemed as medal contenders at the Tokyo Olympics, the duo crashed out in the second qualification stage of the 10m air pistol mixed team in the showpiece event. The duo finished seventh in Qualification 2 after topping the first phase with 582 at the Asaka Range. After a disappointing Olympics, both Saurabh and Manu would individually be eyeing commendable shows at the President's Cup.