Jakarta, Aug 21 (UNI) Sixteen-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary created history as he shattered the Chinese hegemony to become the first and youngest Indian to win 10m Air Pistol Gold with a Games record of 240.7 points in the Shooting competition of the 18th Asian Games at Palembang on Tuesday.
Compatriot Abhishek Verma took the bronze with 219.3 points. While Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda, who led for most of the final, won silver with a tally of 239.7 points.
In the process, the Meerut boy earned another distinction of earning the first shooting gold for the country in this edition of the Games and only their eighth shooting gold across all editions of the Asian Games.
This is Saurabh’s first senior event. He had won the Asian Championships in the same event in 2017 and also finished fourth at the World Championships in the same year.
Abhishek Verma is also making his competitive debut at a major event and has not taken part in even a World Cup before.
Before this, only Indian to have won a medal in this event was Vijay Kumar who had claimed a bronze in 2010 at Guangzhou (China).
Saurabh and Abhishek had beaten more experienced duo of Jitu Rai and Om Mitharval at the national selection trials to be selected for this prestigious competition and they justified their inclusion by winning the medals.
This event was introduced in the Asian Games in 1974 at Teheran and in the previous 11 editions, Chinese have won gold 7 times, followed by Korea (2) Japan and North Korea (one each)
Displaying tremendous self belief, Saurabh led a very strong field of 40 shooters in the qualification round and made the cut for the final with 586 points two points ahead of former Olympic Champion Jin Jongoh from Korea.
Saurabh had earlier set a World record, scoring 243.7 at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany, where he won a gold medal in the same event.
Verma, a qualified lawyer, started hitting the big targets when he needed them most as he fired 10.7 to move to the second position, pushing Saurabh behind , as six contenders were left in the play-offs.
However, a slight loss of concentration ( 9.1) in the next shot made him slip to number three, as Saurabh once again, came back to the silver medal position with a 10.6, as four contenders were left.
And then luck played a role as Matsuda shot 8.9 on his penultimate shot to slip from the top position. Chaudhary showed nerves of steel, scoring 10.2 and 10.4 on his last two shots to secure the top podium place.
(Article authored by Harpal Singh Bedi)