Fifteen-year-old Shardul Vihan on Thursday became the youngest Indian shooter to win a medal at the Asian Games after he finished second in the men’s double trap here, extending the sensational run of teenaged shooters from the country.
Vihan’s silver was India’s eighth medal from the Jakabaring Shooting Range.
The Meerut-based Vihan shot 73 in the final after topping the qualification earlier in the day. The gold went to 34-year-old South Korean Hyunwoo Shin and bronze to 42-year-old from Qatar, Hamad Ali Al Marri.
Vihan took to shooting seriously only four years ago, under the tutelage of Shamli-based coach Anwar Sultan, who witnessed his student’s success in person.
“The moment he came to me I knew he would excel at whatever he does. Be it table tennis or badminton or any other sport. He has an amazing muscle memory. Now I will prepare him for the trap event,” said Sultan, looking at the future as double trap is no more an Olympic sport.
“I won a shooting medal in 2014 at a North Zone meet. That was it (when I knew what I would be doing for a long time),” said a supremely confident Vihan, who only began with a shotgun and fell in love with it.
He had a sensational 2017 when he amassed four National titles and the cherry on the cake was a medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany.
India coach Mansher Singh had given Vihan a timely advice the previous night. “Sir ne bola, kal sab tere se badi umar ke honge. Chad ke khelna (all competitors will be a lot older to you, just shoot fearless and they will be wary of you). I just did that,” said the prodigy.
There were no signs of fatigue even though he was out in scorching sun for almost four hours, having topped the qualification earlier. “I was as fresh as ever,” said Vihan.
India’s other representation in men’s double trap, Ankur Mittal, did not make the final. Shreyasi Singh and Varsha Varman also disappointed, finishing sixth and seventh in women’s double trap.
The Union Sports Minister Rahyavardhan Singh Rathore, who won a Olympic silver in the same event at Athens 2004, tweeted his congratulations to the young marksman.
“At 15 YEARS, Shardul Vihan, one of our youngest in #AsianGames2018, has made us immensely proud with a silver in Double Trap Shooting. His prowess convinces me that the future of Indian sports is in VERY safe hands!”, wrote the Minister.
India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra tweeted “so much to learn from Shardul Vihan’s pre shot routine. Well done and all the very very best for your career ahead.”