Consistent Saurabh Chaudhury gunning to match Abhinav Bindra's feat in Tokyo
In India's Olympic history, Abhinav Bindra remains the only athlete to win a gold medal at an individual event, courtesy of his famous victory in the 10m air rifle in Beijing in 2008.
However, back in February, he had predicted that he would not remain the only one with that distinction after Tokyo 2020.
"I do hope and feel that come Tokyo or the Games after that, I will definitely not be the only individual Olympic champion and we will have others coming to the fore," he stated.
And Saurabh Chaudhary happens to be one of those who can possibly match Bindra's feat in Japan. The teenage shooter has been one of the most consistent performers in the international circuit and even in the ISSF World Cup in Croatia, where most shooters of the Indian contingent misfired, he was on song and bagged a bronze in his pet 10m air rifle event. Even in the European Championship, he shot a brilliant 589 in the MQS section to not only come out on top in the MQS category but also in the main qualification round.
Chaudhary has proven his mettle on several questions and has multiple international accolades to his name including eight World Cup gold medals. He thrives under pressure and his Asian Games gold showed to the world that even though he is yet to reach his twenties, he has the composure to match any veteran.
During the lockdown, he trained at his home range so that he does not lose touch with the sport.
"He was living like a prisoner inside his shooting range at home for the majority of this year. Even his family members maintained a distance from him to make sure he did not get sick. So the only thing he has done is practice,” his coach Amit Sheoran said to Indian Express.
He compared him to a yogi and added," With the mindset of a 'Yogi', he is quick to overcome disappointment and doesn’t focus on material goals."
However, he will face an intense challenge from Jin Jong-Oh, who has been one of the most decorated individual shooters in Olympic history and has won six medals including four golds and two silver. He also holds the world record of 594/600 in the qualification round to his name. Moreover, Iran's Javad Foroughi and India's Abhishek Verma are also strong contenders.
Nonetheless, Chaudhary had previously defeated Jong-Oh in the Asian Games in 2018 when he was just 16. It remains to be seen whether he can defeat the experienced South Korean on the world's biggest platform where the stakes are the high.