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Youth Olympics 2018: Two continents, one result for Saurabh Chaudhary


Saurabh Chaudhary during the men’s 10m air pistol final at the shooting range at Tecnopolis Park in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. (Source: AP)

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Less than two months after Saurabh Chaudhary won the 10m Air Pistol gold medal at the Asian Games in Indonesia, the 16-year-old backed it up with another stellar performance to climb the top of the podium at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.

Even before Chaudhary, a native of Kalina village near Meerut, confirmed his domination in the six-shooter final, his coach Amit Sheoran was confident that the teenager will rule the field and call him later to say, “Sir, kar diya competition khatam”.

For someone who started shooting only three years ago, Saurabh’s scores in Indonesia and Argentina, apart from the junior event at the Changwon World Championship, have been regularly close to the 245 mark. Sheoran attributes it to Chaudhary’s calmness and dedication.

“He would come to the rifle club at around six in the morning and would clean the venue before training. Sometimes, temperatures would touch more than 47 degrees inside the sheds but he will train till noon and often get late for lunch. And then he would continue shooting. There were many other shooters but he never hesitated in cleaning the floor. Aur ab is tarah medal jeet raha hai ki jhadoo hi laga raha hai international competitions main medals ka,” shared Sheoran.

While the Asian Games saw Chaudhary topping the qualification with a score of 586, in Argentina the youngster shot a qualification score of 580 to make it to his fifth final at the junior level on the international circuit. Chaudhary shot a score of 245.5 in the junior final in Changwon, 2.2 better than the current world record held by Ukraine’s Oleh Omulchek, and Sheoran believes that the Youth Olympics gold will add to Chaudhary’s confidence. Competing in senior tournaments, he can be expected to make it to the top three in the Indian squad. “Saurabh’s biggest strength has been his calmness and even after the Asian Games, he did not talk about beating Olympic and world Champions. He is a shooter whose scores reflect much better than his age. And opportunities like Changwon will come again. He is still a teenager and like any junior shooter, he knows that this opportunity will not come again once he crosses a certain age. Even though the competition was not as strong as at the Asian Games, I know he will cherish this medal for long. He will be competing in the sixth and seventh selection trials and his eye will now be on a quota spot for the Tokyo Olympics,” added Sheoran. The frequent competitions have meant that Chaudhary will be visiting home next month after a long gap. Father Jagmohan Singh, who is a farmer, and mother Brijesh Devi along with brother Nitin have only seen his victories in pictures and the same was the case on Wednesday.

Archana loses in semifinals

Buenos Aires: Archana Kamath’s stunning run in the table tennis competition of the Youth Olympics ended with a loss in the semifinals here on Wednesday. She lost 1-4 after valiantly trying to unravel the second seed from China, Yingsha Sun, in a tense encounter. Archana is still in the running for the bronze medal though, when she takes on Romania’s Andreea Dragoman later in the evening, early morning in India.

The 18-year-old from Karnataka had created history in the morning, becoming the first Indian ever to enter the semifinals of the Youth Olympics. She defeated Azerbaijan’s Ning Jing 4-3 to achieve this amazing feat. Archana had her opportunity in the fourth game, when she raced away to 5-0 lead and literally toyed with Yingsha to win it 11-1. But her loss in the first three games at 3, 7 and 6 had left her a mountain to climb.

She fought valiantly in the fifth game, which proved to be the decider, but Yingsha had recovered her poise to unleash a series of winners. Earlier, Archana had to use all her skills, energy and nerves to overcome Jing 4-3. She pulled off a 13-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7 win in the quarterfinals. After taking the extended first game, Archana was hit back by Ning Jing, a Chinese origin player from Azerbaijan, who went 2-1 up to mount pressure on the Indian. But Archana was up to the task and levelled 3-3 before dropping the next.

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