All eyes will be on Indian shooters as the Tokyo Olympics approaches its opening ceremony. Shooting is hailed to be India’s best bet at a gold medal and is touted to bring home the most medals among many other sports. Indian marksmen Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma along with rifle shooters Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan will be in action from the very first day.
While women’s air rifle will be India’s first medal event of the Summer Games, it will be followed by the finals 10m men’s air pistol featuring Saurabh and Abhishek. The event is India’s best bet at an individual medal in the sport with both the shooters placed at the top of the rankings. Going into the thrilling final, we take a look at where the Indian shooters stand in the event when it comes to the number’s games.
Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma in the numbers game
The Indian duo of Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary has been leading the way in the finals in the Tokyo Olympics qualification cycle. They have made it to as many as five finals while bagging a couple of gold medals each. Such has been their dominance since the 2018 World Championships that actually clean-swept the gold medals on offer at the World Cups in 2019.
Despite being younger of the two, Saurabh has been the better shooter having produced great results with consistency on his side. The young sensation has made it to five finals out of the seven events in the cycle and has returned with medals on each occasion. He goes into the Tokyo Olympics as the reigning Junior World Champion, the reigning Youth Olympic Champion, and the reigning Asian Games Champion. Saurabh goes into the games with the highest average per shot in finals of 10.141.
Such has been the domination of Saurabh, that World no. 1 Abhishek has been in his shadows over the past couple of years. But that doesn’t change the fact that the senior pro, who boasts two world cup gold medals and bronze is a tremendous performer. He boasts of an average qualification score of above 580 and has an average per shot in finals of 10.066 which is the fourth highest amongst the 36 shooters who will be featuring at the Olympics.
Despite impressive outings, the Indians are not invincible as is the case with every other sportsperson. If there is a chink in Saurabh’s armor, it is that his recent finals scores have seen a slight dip. He has gone from shooting above 254 in the 2018 World Championships, junior category, and the 2019 Delhi and Munich World Cups to scores of around 240 2019 Rio World Cup and the 2021 Delhi and Osijek World Cups. Verma on the other hand has not been consistent enough in the qualifiers with his score fluctuating widely between 570 and 585.
Russia’s Chernousov Artem, who boasts the highest average qualification score in the cycle, is expected to be the biggest threat to the Indians. The Russian has never shot under 583 or missed a final in the four events he featured in, returning three silver medals. Chernousov, Abhishek, and Saurabh together account for a total of 11 out of the 21 medals on offer at the world events in the Tokyo Olympics qualification cycle, making them the clear best shooters.
Jin Jongoh, the only individual four-time Olympic Champion in shooting history, will be yet another marksman to look out for in the event. The legendary shooter and reigning World Champion’s unbelievable qualification world record of 594 make him a huge threat. But the fact that he has been out of competition since 2018 and that might dent his hopes of a fourth Olympic medal in a row.
Average scores men 10m air pistol shooters
|AVG SCORE (Final|
|AVG PER SHOT|
|AVG PER SHOT|
Chinese legend Pang Wei with his impressive qualification average of 584 will another strong competitor on the field. While Wei, the Beijing Olympic Champion, and Rio Games bronze medalist, has an impressive qualification average, his per-shot finals average of 9.836 falls on the shorter side.
Iran’s Javad Foroughi has been a huge improvement since the pandemic. Although he doesn’t feature in the top five competitors for the Indians for his low average qualifying score, he has shot 583 and 584 at the 2021 Delhi and Osijek World Cups and secured gold in both events. At both the events, he beat Saurabh, and the final average score was very close to the Indian prodigy too. So the Iranian might emerge as a dark horse in the event on the first day of the Summer Games.