Saurabh Chaudhary yet again tops National selection trials

Saurabh Chaudhary shot nonchalantly to top both the men’s and junior air pistol events once again in the shooting National selection trials.

Saurabh Chaudhary with coach Amit Sheoran after topping the shooting National selection trials.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

The challengers changed, but the champion remained the same. Saurabh Chaudhary shot nonchalantly to top both the men’s and junior air pistol events once again in the shooting National selection trials at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughalakabad, on Sunday.

Of course, he continued to tease the world by shooting better than his own world junior record, which incidentally is better than the men’s world record!

Asian Games gold medallist, World Junior champion and Youth Olympics champion, Saurabh Chaudhary fared better in qualification as he shot 583, which compared favourably with his 578 in the first trials.

Vikas Dhama topped the qualification with 586, but Saurabh had little trouble in topping the men’s field which had the Asian Games bronze medallist Abhishek Verma apart from World Cup gold medallists, Shahzar Rizvi and Amanpreet Singh.

Saurabh shot 243.3 to top the men’s competition, 3.5 points ahead of Arjun Singh Cheema. His total was 0.3 short of the men’s world record. Vikas Dhama finished third ahead of Amanpreet Singh, Abhishek Verma and Shahzar Rizvi.

Shahzar who had won the World Cup gold with a world record in Guadalajara earlier this season, lost a shoot-off 10.7 to 10.8, amid thunderous clapping, against Abhishek. While, Abhishek could not progress any further than the fifth spot.

Saurabh came back for the junior final much stronger, and shot 246.0, which was 0.5 point better than his world junior record.

"I was a little under pressure yesterday as I was competing after some time. Yet, I was happy to start in the eighth place and finish first. Today, I was much better and felt no pressure. It was like practice. I just shot normal," said the 16-year-old Saurabh, with unassuming simplicity.

With so many shooters in the fray, and even the much accomplished Jitu Rai not making the final after finishing 13th with 378, it was imperative on Saurabh’s part to persist with the good shooting to make the Indian team.

For someone who consistently practices on paper targets, Saurabh was able to show his class on the electronic targets, against quality opposition, once he got a foot-hold into the competition.

Like the previous day, Saurabh opted to skip the youth final, in which world junior champion Vijayveer Sidhu topped with 244.3, a clear three points ahead of Arjun Singh Cheema.

The results:

10m air pistol

Men: 1. Saurabh Chauhary 243.3 (583); 2. Arjun singh Cheema 239.8 (583); 3. Vikas Dhama 220.1 (586).

Junior men: 1. Saurabh Chaudhary 246.0 (583); 2. Deepak Dhariwal 241.2 (578); 3. Mukesh Nelavalli 218.3 (577).

Youth men: 1. Vijayveer Sidhu 244.3 (577); 2. Arjun Singh Cheema 241.3 (583); 3. Shaurya Sarin 219.1 (576).