Pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary, who was touted as one of India’s best bets in shooting at the Tokyo Olympics, will return to action at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
Saurabh has only participated in one senior ISSF event since the Tokyo debacle—in Cairo last year, when he bagged the gold medal in 10m air pistol amid a depleted field. Powerhouses like China and the USA had not sent their athletes to the aforementioned competition.
However, on Thursday, Saurabh will once again go up against Chinese and US athletes, with Liu Junhui, Zhang Yifan, and Zhang Bingchen representing India’s South-east Asian neighbour. Junhui, though, will be shooting for ranking points only (RPO). Olympian Nickolaus Mowrer will be the sole representative from the US.
Saurabh, since being eliminated from the final hall at the Asaka Shooting Range two years ago, took an extended break from the sport, with not many aware of his whereabouts. However, he gradually started making appearances in domestic competitions a while later, even switching to the 25m range for a while.
The event in Rio doesn’t offer any Olympic quotas, and with most in the ‘A’ team concentrating on the Asian Games and later the Asian Championship – a quota-bearing competition – in Korea, this will be a good chance for Saurabh to start making his way up the ladder once again.
While it may be a tad too late to stake a claim in the scheme of things, as far as the flight to Paris is concerned, it may not be too late for the shooter to start the uphill climb again, given he is only 21. That he won his first senior medal at 16 and a further 11 since then in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 is testimony to the things he is capable of pulling off.
Saurabh’s event (10m air pistol) starts at 7:30pm IST on September 14.