Age no bar, food bonds shooters Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary

Despite a 12-year age difference, Indian pistol shooters Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary are great friends because of vegetarian food.

By Utathya Nag

Love for shooting and vegetarian food, Abhishek Verma believes, is the secret behind his and fellow Indian shooter Saurabh Chaudhary’s close friendship.

Both Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary are two of India’s top men’s 10m Air Pistol shooters and are regarded as India’s best hopes for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Despite being competitors in the same event, Abhishek Verma says its friendship and not professional rivalry that underlines his relationship with Chaudhary and the choice of food has had a big role to play in building that bond.

“Saurabh and I are good friends. We both are vegetarians. So, whenever we travel to foreign countries, we both go out hunting for veg food together. That’s helped us bond,” Verma told the Olympic Channel in an exclusive chat.

Saurabh Chaudhary (left) and Abhishek Verma (right) are two of India's best men's pistol shooters currently

Abhishek Verma, a two-time ISSF World Cup gold medallist, also said, “When in countries like China and South Korea, conventional veg food is hard to come by, Subway’s veggie sandwiches have come to our rescue time and again.”

Roommates to friends

Incidentally, both shooters made a breakthrough on the senior circuit at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

The two were roommates during the event and despite Abhishek Verma being 12 years older than Saurabh, the two instantly hit it off because of their love for the sport.

“Saurabh and I were roommates during the 2018 Asian Games. It was my first major international event. Saurabh had played at big events in the junior levels but it was his first at senior level,” Abhishek Verma noted.

“Even now, we still discuss our games whenever we can.  We talk about what went wrong and what can be improved. During our training too, we keep helping each other,” he added.

Friendly wagers

Considering results, the two have gone toe-to-toe at international events since 2018.

While Saurabh Chaudhary won the gold and Abhishek Verma clinched the bronze at the 2018 Asian Games, the result was flipped at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2019.

In between, Saurabh won gold medals at the 2019 ISSF World Cups held in New Delhi and Munich while Abhishek Verma triumphed at the World Cup at Beijing.

The 30-year-old Verma, however, suggests that there’s no particular competitive urge to oust each other at events, but friendly competitions during training isn’t uncommon between the two.

“We do have small bets and wagers during training, like friends do,” he grinned.

Abhishek Verma celebrates his birthday on August 1, incidentally a day before Friendship Day is observed in India this year.