The sensational Saurabh Chaudhary fired his way into the finals of the men’s 10m air pistol event by topping the qualifications with a mind-blowing performance in the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. Abhishek Verma, the other Indian in the fray, was also in contention to make the cut after staging an excellent rally, but two eights in the final series dashed his hopes. He finished 17th with 575.
Appearing in his maiden Olympics, wunderkind Chaudhary shot a total of 586 in the qualifications, including a perfect 100 in the fourth series following back-to-back 98, to march his way into the eight-man summit showdown, which comprises a world-class field. Even as Chaudhary went about his task in his typical composed manner, his roommate and friend Verma, battled hard at the Akasa Range.
Chaudhary, an Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist, started in an excellent fashion, shooting 10 out of 10 before slipping in the second part of the first series. The 19-year-old multiple World Cup gold-medallist then rallied from the 19th place, in a field of 36, to inch closer to the top eight qualifying spots.
Once inside the safe zone, Chaudhary continued to sizzle and scored a perfect 100 with a 10 out of 10 after back-to-back 98s, making his way up to the top of the highly competitive field comprising multiple world and Olympic champions in Chinese shooters Pang Wei, Zhang Bowen and Serbian Damir Mikec. Korean legend and four-time Olympic champion Jin Jin Jongoh could not make the finals.
Verma started with a 94 and and after being behind, got his act together and continued his march up the leaderboard until two 8s and as many 9s in the last series did him in. In the 10m air pistol qualification, each shooter fires six series of 10 shots each with the top eight qualifying based on cumulative scores.
Chaudhary and Verma have been by far the two best air pistol shooters in the world over the past three years, with both taking turns to be world number one.