Young Indian marksmen Saurabh Chaudhary and Apurvi Chandela are without a doubt strong prospects for India in the men's 10 m air pistol and women's 10m air rifle categories when the
They have been in a rich vein of form in the recent past and will be looking to be at their best when Tokyo 2020 rolls along.
The last couple of years have been impressive for Chandela who has won seven World Cup medals, including two individual and one mixed team gold, in 2018 and 2019. She has also the distinction of setting a 10m air rifle world record and climbing to the top of the world rankings.
Meanwhile, Chaudhary, just 18-years-old, has been hitting the right notes since his arrival on the world shooting scene in 2018, when he became the youngest Indian shooter to win an Asian Games gold medal in 10m air pistol. Like Chandela, 2019 had been an eventful year for him too as he bagged two World Cup golds, set a world record and topped the rankings chart.
Although the Coronavirus pandemic has played spoilsport, his coach Amit Sheoran believes that Chaudhary is a strong medal hope for India in the Tokyo Olympics.
"He was living like a prisoner inside his shooting range at home for the majority of this year. Even his family members maintained a distance from him to make sure he did not get sick. So the only thing he has done is practice,” Sheoran said to Indian Express.
“His average scores have improved by a couple of points. He now shoots 588 routinely, the kind of score that automatically makes him a medal contender.”
Chandela has also made the most of this break to get sharper and even placed a simulator on the barrel of her rifle, which would help her record data from her training sessions.
Although the shooters are set to arrive at the Olympics in their prime, national pistol coach Samaresh Jung opines that nobody could foretell what would happen at the range on that fateful day.
"Sometimes, everything that happens at the range defies logic. You may dominate an entire Olympic cycle and nail every training session but still, that would not translate to a medal,” he stated.
He elaborated by taking the example of German rifle shooter Sonja Pfeilschifter, who medalled at every World Championship between 1994 and 2010 but fell short of a top-three finish at the Olympics.
"She has been to five Olympics and could not win one medal,” Jung said. “(Rajmond) Debevec won a medal at the Olympics at his fourth attempt. But then, there have been people like Vijay (Kumar) as well. He was nowhere on the world scene, goes to his first Olympics (in 2012) and gets a silver medal.”
However, Sheoran feels that Chaudhary will be able to hold on to his form six months later as well.
Saurabh’s mindset is like a yogi, he is quick to overcome disappointment and doesn’t focus on material goals. And because of this, I am confident he will bounce back in 2021 and remain a medal hope like he was this year.