PALEMBANG, Aug 23: Fifteen-year-old Shardul Vihan today 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 marksmen from the country.
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.
Usually, the shotgun competitions are dominated by older shooters but not today. Vihan, a Class X student of Dayawati Modi Academy in Modipuram, was unfazed by the presence of experienced shooters double his age. The bronze winner is almost triple his age.
Sixteen-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary, who also has a Meerut connection, had made history by winning the gold in the 10m pistol here on Tuesday. Vihan�s silver was India�s eighth medal from the Jakabaring Shooting Range.
It may seem sensational but the young Indian shooters are making a habit of winning medals at the big stage. Anish Bhanwala was 15 and Manu Bhaker 16 when they had won a gold each at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
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.
He is a rare talent who works extremely hard on his game. His uncle Manoj Vihan, who was also here, revealed his punishing schedule.
�He wakes up at five in the morning every day, goes to Karni Shooting Range (in Delhi) from Meerut, and comes back only by nine in the night. Imagine a 15-year-old doing all this,� said Manoj.
Vihan comes from a business family who is into property and farming. He tried cricket and then badminton before settling at shooting.
�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.
No wonder he was fearless against competitors more than double his age.
India coach Mansher Singh had given Vihan a timely advice after he had played his daily round of PUBG, a shooting video game, with his friend and fellow shooter Lakshay Sheoran at the Games Village last 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 child 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 the shooter, who also likes to cook besides his video game bingeing.
Can he make an omelette? �Of course. I can make some really good Aaloo Jeera also. I like to cook whenever I can,� added Vihan.
That was when National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh, who was standing close to him, veered into the conversation. � PTI