CHENNAI/NEW DELHI : Sometime in 2015, a lawyer by the name of Abhishek Verma started to shoot. Even though he wasn’t new to shooting per se — he grew up around gun-toting bodyguards as his father was a sessions judge — Verma wasn’t formally introduced to the sport till then. He was pushing 26, an age where most shooters are already established names on the circuit.
After initially taking it up as a hobby — short 15 minute drills inside the range — he immersed himself completely into the grind in the end of the 2017. It’s fair the say that his decision has paid off handsomely. An Asian Games bronze, a silver at the Asian Championships and now earning India a quota place at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Beijing. His gold in the 10m air pistol event means India have two quota places in this competition at the 2020 Olympics (teen Saurabh Chaudhary had won a quota at the New Delhi leg of the World Cup in February).
Considering the field in Beijing — a former Olympic champ (Pang Wei), reigning Worlds silver-medallist (Artem Chernusov) and multiple ISSF gong-winners — Verma was not among the favourites. But he was in the zone for the majority of the contest to win the country’s fifth Olympic quota in the sport. That much was in evidence as he shot a perfect 100 in the fourth qualifying series of 10 shots which helped him to advance to the eight-man final. There, the lawyer-turned-shooter again showed his calmness and composure by leading from wire to tape to take the gold by 2.3 points (242.7 to Chernusov’s 240.4) in just his second senior appearance at this level.
After the final, he refused to look towards the future. “I don’t focus on future outcomes, I just focus on present situation and work hard to improve myself every day,” he said. “My next goal is my next competition and I will work harder to maintain the standard and also try to improve myself.” One part of ‘improving himself’ involves picking the brains of Chaudhary, 13 years his junior. “Saurabh is my room partner from Asian Games and now also. We learn from each other and we both share our shooting experience with each other. We both try to give our best every time,” he said.
Considering he has been shooting properly for only two years, he has already grown a lot. Now, for the next test. Shoot a string of high scores to punch that ticket to Tokyo.