India's Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker won gold in the 10m air pistol mixed team event at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing on Thursday.
Bhaker and Chaudhary shot a combined score of 482 to qualify in fifth place for the final, where they edged Jiang Ranxin and Pang Wie of China to claim gold. Russia's Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov beat China's Qian Wei and Wang Meng Yi to win the bronze medal.
This is the third gold in the discipline for 17-year-old Bhaker and 16-year-old Chaudhary in as many months after the duo won the top prize at the 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taipei last month and at the New Delhi World Cup in February.
Bhaker and Chaudhary's performance did not earn them a Tokyo Olympics quota place, however, as all events other than the mixed air rifle and pistol disciplines are the ones with Olympic quota places on offer. The 25m men's rapid fire pistol event has three instead of two quota places available to make up for the New Delhi World Cup losing its 'Olympic qualification' event tag after denying Pakistan shooters visas.
Quota places go to the country and not the individual shooter, except in case of it being obtained through the world ranking. Qualification through world ranking implies that at the end of the qualification period, the highest-ranked athlete in a particular event who hasn't yet qualified in any event and whose National Olympic Committee (NOC) hasn't won a quota place in that specific event, will be awarded a quota place.
In Taipei, Bhaker and Chaudhary shot a combined score of 784 in the qualification round, breaking the record Russians Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov had set at the European Championships five days earlier. The Indians then went on to win the five-team final with a score of 484.8.
In New Delhi, Bhaker finished fifth in the 25m rapid fire pistol event and failed to qualify for the air pistol event final. In the mixed team final, despite Bhaker coming up with low scores, Chaudhary's calmness under pressure helped lift the team and keep them in contention. Eventually, Bhaker and Chaudhary won by a substantial 5.7 points, allowing Bhaker to end a difficult week on a high. For Asian Games gold medallist Chaudhary, it was another medal won days after claiming his first World Cup medal in the 10m air pistol, a dominant performance that helped him clinch a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics with a world-record score.