Sometime in the 80s, I had written an article in this same column titled, ‘Why We Fail in Sports.’ Things then for Indian sports were not as pleasant as they are today. One of my points was that we are unable to compete in such sports where an individual’s physical size or strength becomes extremely important. Thus, my recommendations were that what we need to compete in such sports where physical strength takes a back seat like shooting, archery, chess, billiards and the like or where the competition is between physically equals like boxing and wrestling. One teenager who seems to be proving my contention in recent times is seventeen-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary from Uttar Pradesh.
A farmer’s son, once again, Saurabh is yet another talent that comes from a family which is far from any affluence. This seems to be a new trend in Indian sports where a fresh sporting talent seems to be emerging from among the teenagers of the not-so-affluent class. Maybe it is the lack of affluence which is an impetus for such youngsters to put in that extra effort required to realize their dreams. Whatever be the underlining reason, Indian sport seems to be the gainer.
Born on 11 May 2002 in Kalina village of the Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, Saurabh has impressed one and all not only by winning gold medals but also creating new world records. The Binauli Range in Baghpat District is where Saurabh has been coached under Amit Sheoran. The young shooter has had to travel 15 km each way from his village to the range and back to complete his practice sessions that have finally brought him the laurels that he rightly deserves. With the passage of time, Saurabh seems to have monopolised the 10-metre air pistol event.
Since shooting is not a widely-followed sport, it would not be out of place to mention a few facts about the sports which will help the readers understand as to how the sport is conducted. The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) is the governing body of the sport and it lays down all the rules for the sport.
The 10m Air Pistol Men event is conducted in standing position with the target being placed at a distance of 10 metres from the shooter. The shooters have to reload the pistol after each shot as pistols are single-loaded. The qualification round consists of 60 shots while in the elimination-style final, athletes can shoot a maximum of 20 shots.
Following the athletes’ presentation, the final begins with 2 series of 5 shots where each series must be fired in 250 seconds. After the first 2 series, a maximum of 14 single shots can be fired wherein each shot must be fired in 50 second. Thereafter, the lowest-ranked athlete is eliminated after every 2 shots. Thus, the last 2 shots decide the gold medal winner. A shoot-off decides the final winner if the score between the last two shooters left in the field is a tie.