Saurabh Chaudhary, a 16-year-old farmer’s son from Meerut, won the gold medal at the ongoing Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, with a Games record of 240.7 in the 10 m air pistol event on Aug. 21.
Chaudhary became India’s youngest ever individual gold medalist across all the sports at the Asian Games, and the fifth Indian shooter to win gold at the level.
The teenager, who hails from Kalina village in western Uttar Pradesh, maintained his calm even in the finals, where he was competing with Japan’s veteran shooter Tomoyuki Matsuda, who has been one of Chaudhary’s idols in shooting.
The gold medal winner was to be decided by the final two shots of Chaudhary and Matsuda, who had a lead of 0.4 points at that time. The Indian athlete shot 10.2 while the 42-year-old Japanese legend could manage only 8.9. In the second shot, Chaudhary scored 10.4 against Matsuda’s 10.3, and set the Asian Games record by getting a total score of 240.7. Debutant Abhishek Verma, a 29-year-old shooter from Rohtak in Haryana, scored 219.3 to secure the bronze medal.
Chaudhary, who took up the sport only three years ago, later told the media that he did not feel the pressure during the final shots. This was his first ever senior tournament. The Class XI student had earlier broken the world record to win a gold in the Junior World Cup in Germany in June this year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to congratulate Chaudhary, saying, “16-year old Saurabh Chaudhary illustrates the potential and prowess our youth is blessed with.”
Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Rajyavardhan Rathore, himself an Olympic silver medalist shooter, also congratulated Chaudhary on his first Asian Games medal at this young age.
Many other Indian sportspersons, including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who started his international cricket career at the age of 16, also congratulated the teenager.
In Kalina, the atmosphere is nothing short of festive. “The entire village is very delighted. Our tiny village has gained global recognition thanks to him,” Chaudhary’s brother told the New Indian Express. Villagers often refer to the shooter as Modiji, as he often travels abroad for his sports events, the report added.