16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary wins 10m air pistol gold; Rajput wins 3 positions silver


16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary stunned a strong field of shooters in the Men's 10m Air Pistol as he won a gold medal scoring 240.7 points in the final to set an Asian Games record. Compatriot Abhishek Verma finished third with 219.3 points. Japan's Tomoyuki Matsuda, who led for most of the final, won silver with a tally of 239.7 points. The vastly experienced Sanjeev Rajput also won a silver in the 50m rifle 3 positions event with a score of 452.7.

This is India's first shooting gold at this edition of the Asian Games and only their eighth shooting gold across all editions of the Asian Games.

Chaudhary had also finished on top of the table in the qualification round, scoring 586, two points ahead of former Olympic Champion Jin Jongoh from Korea. He had earlier set a World record, scoring 243.7 at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany, where he won a gold medal in the same event.

Chaudhary is the first Indian to win gold in the 10m air pistol event at the Asian Games. The only other Indian to medal in this event is Vijay Kumar, who won bronze at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou.

Prakash Nanjappa, who won a silver in the same event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, said that Chaudhary has a bright future, saying, "Saurabh is an extraordinary talent. I think he's a definite future Olympic medalist, if he keeps up his performance."

Verma, who is a qualified lawyer, started shooting the big scores just when it mattered as he hit a 10.7 to move to the second position, eclipsing Saurabh, when six contenders were left in the final. However, a slight fumble of 9.1 in the next shot made him slide down to third as Chaudhary once again came back to the silver medal position with a 10.6 when four contenders were left.

There was a final twist in the tale though as Matsuda shot 8.9 on his penultimate shot to slip from the top position. Chaudhary showed nerves of steel, scoring 10.2 and 10.4 on his last two shots to secure the top position.

Verma only started shooting three years ago at a shooting range in Hissar, Haryana and finished sixth in the qualification round with a score of 580.

This is Chaudhary's first senior event. He had won the Asian Championships in the same event in 2017 and also finished fourth at the World Championships in the same year. Verma was also making his competitive debut at a major event and has never taken part in even a World Cup before this.

Chaudhary and Verma were chosen for the Indian team over the more accomplished duo of Jitu Rai and Om Mitharval after defeating them at the national selection trials.

Rajput scripts history by winning 50m rifle 3 positions silver

Sanjeev Rajput scripted history by registering India's best-ever finish in the 50m rifle 3 positions event with a silver medal. India's previous best display in the same event had come through Gagan Narang and Chain Singh who had won bronzes in 2006 and 2014 respectively.

With this win, Rajput, 37, bagged his fourth medal at the Asian Games. He had won a silver and bronze in the 10m air rifle team event in 2010 and 2014 respectively, and a bronze in the 50m rifle 3 positions team event in 2006.

Rajput was on top of the table after the first 10 shots in the kneeling position, but fumbled afterwards, shooting a rare 7.8 in one of his next five shots to slip to second. However, he maintained his nerve and got the lead back after the next 15 shots in the prone position, taking a healthy three-point lead over his nearest contender - China's Chang Haoran.

The standing position round was more of a roller coaster, with Haoran and his compatriot Hui Zicheng giving Rajput some tough competition. Rajput scored 10.5 on the penultimate shot before the eliminations to lead by 0.3 points right before the last five shots.

With six shooters left, he fumbled and shot an 8.4 to slip to the third position. He then shot a 10.4 to go back to the silver medal position, in the process assuring himself of a medal.

Zicheng won gold with a score of 453.3 while Japan's Takayuki Matsumoto won bronze with a total of 441.4 points.

Rajput had finished seventh in the qualifiers after scoring 1160, while Haoran had finished first with a score of 1174 points. Rajput has been very consistent over the years, winning gold at the Commonwealth Games - where he set a Commonwealth Record scoring 454.5 - in April this year.

He also had won gold at the Changwon World Cup in 2011 in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event before winning a silver in the same event at the 2016 ISSF World Cup in Baku. He had also won a silver in the 10m air rifle at the shooting World Cup in Sydney in 2010.