Malta Independent

Hot shot teen Saurabh Chaudhary wins Asian Games gold for India


A 16-year-old student has become a real hot shot in the Indian team.

Saurabh Chaudhary won the men's 10-meter air pistol gold medal at the Asian Games on Tuesday in his debut in senior competitio­n, beating a field containing ex-world and Olympic champions.

Chaudhary, who only took up the sport competitiv­ely three years ago and set a junior world record earlier this year, won with a games record of 240.7 in the 24-shot final. Japan collected silver via 42-yearold ex-world champion Tomoyuki Matsuda, who was a point behind.

Abhishek Verma joined India teammate Chaudhary on the podium after finishing in third place.

"There were Olympian shooters, world champions and so on — to beat them means a lot to me," he said, recalling how he recalibrat­ed for the last two rounds when he realized he was closer than most had expected. "When I was in second position, I thought I will only win a silver ... but at the last the momentum changed and I won the gold."

India pistol coach Pavel Smirnov said the gold for Chaudhary was a pointer to the country's potential in the sport.

"Now young ones are coming up. Of course this is good ... because this shows a good future for the Indian team in pistol shooting," he said. "We have potential because we start now caring about our young shooters. We are focused on this now.

"If we are ahead of the others, and select young shooters then, of course, we have a good and strong future."

Praise from home flowed in quickly after Chaudhary picked up India's third gold medal of the games, from high-profile athletes and public figures. In a post on an official Twitter account, India's President Ram Nath Kovind posted: "Our shooters are bang on target! We are proud of you!"

Liu breaks 50-meter backstroke world record at Asian Games

Liu Xiang swam a world-record time of 26.98 seconds to win the women's 50-meter backstroke gold medal on Tuesday night at the Asian Games.

The 21-year-old Liu, who prefers swimming the freestyle, became the first woman to break 27 seconds in the event, lowering the record of 27.06 set by fellow Chinese swimmer Zhao Jing at the world championsh­ips in Rome in 2009 before the contentiou­s rubberized suits were banned.

"My main focus is actually the 50meter freestyle," Liu said through a translator. "I didn't expect to break the world record at all. "Because the focus is on freestyle, I didn't have any pressure. I could concentrat­e on my own performanc­e."

Fu Yuanhui took silver in 27.68 in a 1-2 finish for China and Japan's Natsumi Sakai, the 2017 world junior champion, won bronze in 27.91.

Fu won the 50 and 100 backstroke titles at the 2014 Asian Games, was world champion in the 50 backstroke in 2015 and picked up an Olympic bronze in the 100 backstroke at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Liu, who had a previous best of 27.40 and was a bronze medalist in the 50 backstroke at the 2015 world championsh­ips, said she still had other events so wouldn't celebrate for a while.

"This gold medal and world record will give me more confidence when competing in the freestyle," she said.

The 50 backstroke is not raced at the Olympics, so the world and continenta­l championsh­ips hold some significan­ce for those who enjoy the one-lap sprints.

"Still kind of an achievemen­t in swimming," Liu said, adding that the event's absence from the Olympic program, "doesn't make any difference."

Homeward-bound Schooling set for next phase at Asian Games

The hardest lap for any swimmer is usually the one coming home.

That's when they have to try their hardest, giving it everything they have to get to the finish.

Singapore's Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling is about to discover what that means when he's not in the competitio­n pool.

After spending the last nine years in relative anonymity in the United States, the 23-year-old Schooling is getting ready for the second half of his sporting career back in southeast Asia, knowing he probably won't be able to walk down the street or go for dinner without being noticed.

"It's everywhere but it shows that they support you and they're excited to see you, and so you can't complain," Schooling said. "You can never brush aside your fans. You've always got to reciprocat­e so I'm completely fine with it."

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