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ISSF World Cup: Abhishek Verma wins gold in 10m Air Pistol, secures Olympic quota

This is India’s fifth Tokyo 2020 quota in shooting and the second in 10m air pistol after Saurabh Chaudhary clinched the first in New Delhi.

other sports Updated: Apr 27, 2019 22:45 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
ISSF World Cup,Abhishek Verma,10m Air Pistol
A file photo of Indian shooter Abhishek Verma.(PTI)

Rookie shooter Abhishek Verma earned India its fifth Olympic quota place with a stellar performance, shooting a 585 in qualification to enter the finals at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing, and then notching 242.7 to win the gold—a good 2.3 points ahead of the silver medallist, Russia’s Artem Chernousov. Abhishek is the second air pistol shooter, after Saurab Chaudhary, to bag an Olympic quota in 10m air pistol. This was Abhishek’s maiden gold—in only his second appearance—at a World Cup.

With this, India have won five Olympic quota places, the others being women rifle shooters Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil, men’s rifle shooter Divyansh Panwar.

Abhishek, 29, a computer science graduate who also holds a law degree, was a latecomer to the sport, starting out only five years back.

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“But he always wanted to make up for lost time ever since he first casually visited a range in Hisar, where I was posted, back in 2014,” said Abhishek’s father Ashok Kumar Verma, who is a sessions judge in Haryana. “He sacrificed most of the simple joys of life—friends, social media, TV or films. He confines himself to his room where he reads books on shooting and watches videos to improve his skills. He trains five-six hours a day.”

Abhishek’s rise has followed a steep trajectory ever since he was called up to the national camp early last year, only four years after he first picked up a gun. He made the final of the World Championships in Changwon (Korea) on his maiden international assignment in August 2018. Abhishek then went on to win bronze at the Asian Games in Jakarta, where compatriot Saurabh Chaudhary won gold, and last month took silver at the Asian Championships in Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei.

Abhishek’s parents both speak of his obsessive nature and his eye for detail.

“Two things have played a key role in his progress,” said Abhishek’s mother Kusum, a homemaker.

“First, his eye for accuracy, and second, Saurabh Chaudhary’s company. Saurabh has been his roommate since the Asian Games. They have similar temperaments, they are calm and quiet. They talk only of shooting. While Abhishek does smile sometimes, but Saurabh, you won’t see a smile crossing his face.”

Soon after Abhishek picked up shooting, his father was transferred to Fatehabad, roughly 50km from Hisar. There were no shooting ranges in Fatehabad, so Abhishek began to take a bus every morning to Hisar, just to visit the range.

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“Abhishek puts everything he has to give to anything he does,” his father says.

National pistol coach Samresh Jung, who is with the team in Beijing said, “Though Abhishek has improved a lot, he still has to work on his match temperament. He certainly is a medal prospect in the Olympics but he will drastically improve his chances if he works a bit more on his match temperament,”though he did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) said on Saturday that Saurabh Chaudhary will be immediately moved from the MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) category to competitive category. Saurabh had been moved to MQS, which is a non-competitive category, to increase India’s chances at winning a second Olympic quota in 10m Air Pistol, after he earned India’s first quota.

“Saurabh will compete for medals at the next World Cup in Munich in May as India has now earned both quota places in 10m air pistol,” said Rajeev Bhatia, NRAI secretary.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 11:46 IST