You’re 16 years old and competing in your first senior international competition, so what do you do? Well, if you’re Saurabh Chaudhry, you just stay calm, and go about your job! Chaudhry shot better than a multiple Olympic champion in the qualification, then shot better than a World Champion and marched on to a gold with a Games Record, no less.
Chaudhry finished on a total of 240.7 in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol final, ahead of Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda, a 2-time World Champion who shot 239.7 for the silver, and India’s Abhishek Verma whose 219.3 won him a bronze.
Three scores of 99 in his qualification total of 586 gives an idea of the quality of Chaudhry’s shooting. It’s the kind of score that’s good enough to give a shooter an Olympic podium finish.
Chaudhry has won a Junior World Cup medal too, but on the senior stage he was a picture of calmness. Both Indian shooters were in the top four when the first two series were completed in the final. When the elimination began, the teenager started with a couple of 9s. Nerves? Absolutely. But the comeback was stunning, as a 10.6 saw him move up to second spot.
As Chaudhry and Japan’s Matsuda were left as the only two, the Indian started with a superb 10.2, while Matsuda shot a horrid 8.9 that almost sealed the deal. Chaudhry’s next shot was a 10.4, Matsuda’s a 10.3 and that was it!
Chaudhry’s gold yet again highlights the winds of change in Indian shooting which wears a visibly young face at the moment. Rio saw the transition period when the shooters had to return home empty handed, but it would be safe to say that Tokyo will be a different story.