Abhinav Shaw scripted history by becoming the youngest-ever gold medallist at the Khelo India Youth Games after he teamed up with the seasoned shooter Mehuli Ghosh to guide West Bengal to a win in the 10m air rifle mixed team event in Pune.
The 10-year-old Asansol-native elevated his game just enough in the final so as to ensure that Mehuli Ghosh finished the competition stylishly with her second gold on the trot.
A sixth-grade student, Shaw had to be patient to get on the range.
He was denied the chance of being among the 16 shooters nominated to compete in the individual events in either of the Junior (under 21) and Youth (under 17) brackets. Nonetheless, he made the most of the opportunity he got.
The qualification, as well as the final, were a calm affair for Abhinav Shaw, qualities hat not only belie his age but also a sign of things to come in future for the youngster. A string of positive results in the past few weeks, it is very much unlikely that he doesn’t elicit some attention to himself.
The shy shooter has been taking big strides in the direction of his shooter father Rupesh and current coach Joydeep Karmakar. The latter is also a seasoned shooter, having missed Olympic bronze in 2012. In the final Mehuli went with the decision to let her young teammate take the first go.
“I take a bit longer than him to line up my shot,” she explained, “He shoots quickly and when we have a minute to complete our series, it helps to have him go first since he shoots quickly.”
The team from West Bengal put up 501.7 points in the final, better than their 498.2 in the Junior final and the 498.8 in the Youth final in Thiruvananthapuram.
The team won by 5.7 points more than the Rajasthan team. Having reached a mark of 831.7 in the qualification that led to a second-place finish, the Bengal team was aplomb of its chances of pulling the trick one more time. And did it indeed, with Abhinav Shaw rising to the occasion.
By the time he had finally put his gun down after an immense pressure, the shooting prodigy was as calm as the match officials.
About Abhinav Shaw:
- Born in 2008, after India won its first individual Olympic gold medal in shooting, Abhinav Shaw was named after the greatest rifle shooter in the country – Abhinav Bindra.
- Originally from the Asansol Rifle Club in West Bengal, he has now been training under Joydeep Karmakar for the last three years.
- He picked up the air rifle at the age of six — that means he is playing the sport for the last four years.
- His record will now be almost impossible to break as now, the age for picking up air rifle has been set to 12. Earlier, it wasn’t defined.
- His father was a shooter himself and wanted to play the sport. But he couldn’t continue due to the financial burdens and fulfilling his dream through his son.
- But Shaw has not taken up the sport merely to fulfil his father’s dream, he has the prodigious talent and skill required for it as well.
- The 10-year-old has also won two national titles in 10m air rifle when he won the gold in the junior and youth mixed team partnering Mehuli Ghosh in November 2018.