Abhishek Verma: Saurabh and I learn from each other, share experiences

Verma secured India's fifth Olympic quota place in shooting, winning the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Beijing.

Gold medallist Saurabh Chaudhary (L) and bronze medallist Abhishek Verma pose with their medals after the 10m air pistol men's shooting final at the 2018 Asian Games.   -  AFP

When it comes to shooting, Abhishek Verma doesn’t have to look beyond his room for advice. Blossoming at 29, Verma often exchanges ideas with his roommate Saurabh Chaudhary, a force to reckon with at 16.

Verma secured India’s fifth Olympic quota place in shooting, winning the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing on Saturday.

Two months ago, unfazed by a field comprising seasoned campaigners, teenager Chaudhary smashed the world record to win gold in the season’s first World Cup and the country’s third quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Verma, too, was least bothered by the big names that lined up at the 10m range. The field included former Olympic champion Pang Wei of China, World Championship silver medallist Artem Chernusov of Russia as well as experienced campaigners and multiple ISSF medallists like Oleh Omelchuk of Ukraine and Yusuf Dikec of Turkey among others.

In the end, though, the lawyer-turned-shooter emerged triumphant with a total score of 242.7, joining his supremely gifted partner.

“Saurabh is my room partner from Asian Games and now also. We learn from each other and we both share our shooting experience with each other. We both try to give our best every time,” Verma said after his event.

The son of a sitting judge added, “In every competition, I try to give my best and I look at every competition as a new one.”

Verma made his World Cup debut in New Delhi but failed to qualify for the final at home. In the Chinese capital, he shot a total of 585 points to qualify for the final at the fourth spot. And then, in the eight-man final, he led from start to finish to claim the biggest prize of his career.

“I don’t focus on future outcomes, I just focus on the present situation and work hard to improve myself every day.

“My next goal is my next competition and I will work harder to maintain the standard and also try to improve myself,” Verma said.

The shooter, who had won a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol event during his India debut at the Asian Games, does not have much international exposure, making the feat even more credible.

Verma was on the job from the word go, evident from a score of 97 in his first qualifying series. He shot a 100 in the fourth and finished with 98 and 97 for a qualification round score of 585, his best in a short international career.

The best, though, was reserved for the final.