World junior champion Hriday Hazarika betters world record at selection trials

Hazarika shot a total of 253.2 in the 10m men’s air rifle in the National shooting selection trials 

By Samrat Chakraborty

The NextGen is front and centre as the Indian shooting contingent prepares for a medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Hriday Hazarika clinched the top spot in 10m men’s air rifle in the National shooting selection trials at the Dr. Karni Singh Range with a record-breaking performance.

He shot a total of 253.2 which is higher than the world record in this event (252.8 achieved by Yu Haonan from China at the International Sport Shooting Federation Rifle and Pistol World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 30, 2019).

Hazarika, the former junior world champion, qualified in seventh place with a score of 628.4. He, however, packed a punch in the finals to beat Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar (who has won a spot in Tokyo 2020 in men's 50m 3 position rifle event) by 1.7 points. Meanwhile, Arjun Babuta who shot 230.0, finished in third spot.

Teen sensation Hazarika first came to the fore in Suhl, Germany in June, 2018 when he won the 10m air rifle event at the Junior World Cup. He clinched the top podium spot after shooting a score of 248.7 in the final, 0.3 points ahead of silver medallist Maximilian Ulbrich from Germany while representing China, Gangfeng Fu clinched the bronze 226.9.

A couple of months down the line he won the junior ISSF World Championship in Changwon, South Korea. The Indian displayed immense grit and held his nerve to beat Iran's Amir Neokounam in the shoot-off after both ended tied at 250.1 points after the final shot.

The first shot was enough for Hazarika to bag the World Championship gold as he scored 10.3 in comparison to Nekounam's 10.2.

Meanwhile, in the women's air rifle event at the Indian selection trials on Saturday, World No.1 Elavenil Valarivan shot 251.7 and won with a two-point margin over Olympian Ayonika Paul while Shriyanka Sadangi finished third.

Nisha Kanwar (631.8), who topped the qualification, finished sixth while Tokyo-bound Apurvi Chandela (625.9) and Anjum Moudgil (623.1) were placed at ninth and 19th position respectively with their sub-par performances.