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A rare India-Pakistan pairing at the Youth Olympics event


India’s Saurabh Chaudhary (right) and Nubaira Babur lost in the round of 16 of the mixed international team event. (Source: Twitter)

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Youth Olympics Games gold medallist Saurabh Chaudhary paired up with Nubaira Babur in the 10m air pistol mixed team event in Buenos Aires, marking the first time players from India and Pakistan competed together at a multi-sport event. While Chaudhary/Babur lost in the round of 16 of the mixed international team event, the 40-shooter qualification round was a first in the sporting world for the arch rivals.

The format, which is exclusive to the Youth Olympics and made its debut at the last edition in Nanjing, saw mixed-nation teams composed of the highest and the lowest-ranked in the men’s and women’s individual events earlier this week. The men’s 10m air pistol champion Chaudhary thus was paired with Babur, who had finished 20th in the women’s event. In the qualification round, which saw shooters from 34 different nationalities, the Indo-Pak pair finished 15th.

The women’s 10m pistol event gold-medallist Manu Bhaker of India was paired up with Bezhan Fayzullaev of Tajikistan who finished last in the men’s 10 m pistol event earlier. Chaudhary/Babur lost to Abdul Aziz Kurdzi of Belarus and Marijana Matea Strbac of Croatia 3-10 on Thursday, but Friday saw the pair of Bhaker/Fayzullaev win the silver medal in the event. Bhaker/Fayzullaev lost 3-10 against the pair of Vanessa Seeger of Germany and Kiril Kirov of Bulgaria in the final.

“Frankly speaking, it was fun shooting in this format. Though we knew the standings after the individual events and got to know about the pairing on the basis of that, the fact that we have not trained or practiced together makes it interesting. Put in the timing of 45 seconds for both the shooters to complete their shot, and it makes scoring tougher. But it’s always good to win medals and even though I was competing with a shooter from other country, this medal winning experience will help in in the mixed team events in future,” shared Bhaker.

Bhaker/Fayzullaev had scored a 10-3 win over the pair of Andrea Miranda Ibarra of Mexico and Dmytro Honta of Ukraine in the semi-final after their 10-8 win over Greta Rankelyte of Latvia and Kirill Usanli of Moldova. “The qualification, round of 16 and then the quarter-final, semi-final and final matches are like shooting in a shoot-off mentally. And I enjoy shooting in the pressure situations. I also liked the fact that the top shooter in individual competitions is paired up with lowest ranked shooter as it balances the team competition and means that every team has a chance of winning a medal,” added Bhaker.

Chaudhary/Babur had finished at the 15th spot in the qualification where they shot a combined score of 738 to qualify for the last 16 stage of the competition. Erfan Salavati of Iran and Amanda Sao Keng of Singapore topped the qualification with a combined score of 755 while Kurdzi/Strbac finished second in qualification with a score of 754. In the qualification round, the 20 teams shot a total of 80 shots with each member of the paired International mixed team shooting 40 shots each.

HOT DEALS

Format tweak

Unlike the individual 10m pistol events, the qualification and round of 16 happen on the first day of the event while the quarter-final, semi-final and final events take place on the second. The mixed International team format of round of 16 sees the highest scoring team in the qualification shoot against the lowest-scoring, and so on and so forth. Two members of each team fire a shot each and the total score is compared to the other team, with the highest-scoring team taking a point. The teams continue till a team reaches 10 points.

Currently the mixed international team events take place in the disciplines of triathlon relay, judo, shooting, archery and fencing. The fencing and triathlon events see teams based on continents while the other events see teams formed on the basis of nationalities. Unlike the mixed team format for events at 2020 Olympics, where the team members should be from one country, Youth Olympic games see athletes paired from different nations.

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