A lot has been said about Indian shooting and its reputation at the international level. There has been a continuous stream of youngsters who have shown high promise and have delivered at international events time and again. But one man currently stands out for having accumulated several top achievements in an extremely short career by employing an exemplary level of consistency. We take a look at Saurabh Chaudhary's chances of winning a medal at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Building on Stellar Consistency
It is no joke that by the age of 18, Saurabh has won gold medals in the ISSF World Cup, ISSF World Championships, Youth Olympic Games as well as the Asian Games with a combined medal haul of 12 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals. Back in 2019, he held the distinction of having both the junior and senior world records to his name. He achieved this feat at the Junior World Championships in Changwon with a score of 245.5 and thereafter won gold in the ISSF World Cup when he scored 245 points. Sustaining his form has been the best possible asset in the competitive atmosphere of the shooting world where one can lose by the finest of margins. He has ensured even in team events that there is no scope of diverging from ones' chosen training regime and focus point of shooting. As a result, he has won accolades even in team events by pairing up with shooters such as Manu Bhaker.
In the 2018 Asian Games, Sourabh Chaudhary shot one of his first major records and in doing so be defeated the veteran Japanese shooter Tomoyuki Matsuda.
However, his biggest competitors in the 10m Air Pistol Event rank above him in the current world standings are Artem Chernousov and Wei Pang. Russian shooter Artem Chernousov is currently world no 1 in the category. He has 2 gold medals from the 2018 World Championships and the 2018 World Cup and just last year, won a gold medal at the European Championships with a score of 241.2. As per statistics, his average scoring in final events ranges from 240 -242 which puts him in and around the same range as Saurabh.
Chinese Wei Pang is another competitor with similar achievements to Artem Chernousov. He has won gold medals at World Championships and has 5 golds, 7 silver and 11 bronze medals to his name. Although he did lose out to Saurabh in 2019 in World Cup in New Delhi when he claimed bronze with a final score of 215.2, the veteran shooter will be looking to claim a higher finish than the previous bronze medal he won in the 2016 Olympics.
The other main competitor is Indian Abhishek Verma who has been phenomenal as well in the international circuit. He won 2 golds at the 2019 World Cup and also claimed first position at the Asian Championships. The current World No. 2 does not have too many accolades to his name but his experience of competing in 10M Air Pistol finals is sure to come in handy during the Olympics.
The biggest factor of course is his confidence that has added up over the past few years. Continuous competitive events coupled with the fact that he has benefited immensely from his coach Amit Sheoran has helped him maintain his fine form through the past 2-3 years. From training in his room through the searing heat of summer in Haryana, to putting down competitors from across the world, Saurabh Chaudhary is arguably India's best medal prospect in shooting and one of the leading contenders to bring home a gold for India since Abhinav Bindra did thirteen years ago.