How many of you know the shooter with twirled moustache and glasses that appear a tad too big for him? Yes, we are talking about Abhishek Verma. We bet, you would have never heard this name till last month! Abhishek Verma grabbed India’s fifth Olympic place in shooting by winning the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in last month. Verma showcased his class in what was only his first ISSF World Cup final.
Within 4 years of picking up a gun, this shooter is now one of the most prominent members of shooting squadron in India. Abhishek, a bronze winner at the 10m Air Pistol event during his debut at the Asian Games, has little international exposure but is proving to be one of the finest shooters on the course. Here’s the interesting story of Abhishek Verma which proves the notion great things can be achieved irrespective of age.
|Full Name||Abhishek Verma|
|Sport Category||Sports Shooting - Air Pistol|
|Date of Birth||August 1, 1989|
Abhishek Verma was in Hisar when he came across the sport of shooting as a competitive sport. The Rohtak-born accompanied his father, who was a sitting judge. He quoted to Times of India once, “I picked up shooting as a hobby about three years ago (in 2015) when my father was posted in Hisar. I used to go to a gym there and got to know that there was a shooting range nearby. That’s where I first picked up a gun.”
Verma’s infatuation with guns has a curious beginning. His father, a sessions judge, always had gun-carrying bodyguards around him. “They used to let me fire those guns sometimes. But I could not develop my interest further when I was a kid. My father was a judge and he used to get transferred every three years. I had to frequently change schools.” It was not until he was 26 that Abhishek started shooting as a hobby and he did not imagine it would ever go beyond that. “I used to spend 15-20 minutes a day at the shooting range,” he once told Indian Express.
The hobby of shooting led him representing his university in the All India University Games and a fifth-place finish in the same made him participate in the Shooting Nationals for the first time in 2015. He shot a below average 553 there. Verma had participated in the National Shooting Championships in 2015 and 2016 but his scores were not that good. The Nationals at the end of 2017 was the turning point of sorts as he put in some consistent scores since the 2018 season began.
It was 2018, after being called up for trials he decided to seriously pursue the sport. He won silver in the Kerala Shooting Nationals and won 12th place in the open event. This feat helped him go up from around 75-80th position in the beginning of the year to 12th at the end of it. A national Shooting trial was the next stop for him. He won gold in trial 2 and after trials 1 and 2 he had moved up fifth in his rankings and by the end of Trials 3 and 4 he scaled up to fourth place. This provided him an opportunity to travel to Munich, Germany for the ISSF World Cup to shoot. He shot 585 there, making it the best Indian performance in 10m air pistol in the German city.
Munich was a another major confidence-booster for Verma. He came back to shoot another 585 in the Trial 5 qualifications, going on to beat athletes such as Jitu Rai, Saurabh Chaudhary, Amanpreet Singh, and Anmol Jain in the finals to win the coveted gold.
Coach Omendra Singh who trained Abhishek at the Eklavya Sports Shooting Academy in Gurugram gave him an ultimatum. He gave him six months to make up his mind if he wanted to pursue the sport seriously or not. Abhishek’s engineering and law degrees helped as he made detailed notes of each shot he fired. It was not easy to train Abhishek but his engineering and law notes helped his coach to understand his strengths and weaknesses as a shooter.
|Silver||World Championships 2018 Changwon||10 m team air pistol|
|Bronze||Asian Games 2018 Jakarta||10 m air pistol|
|Gold||World Cup 2019 Beijing||10 m air pistol|
In 2015, what had been a hobby for this young gun, turned him to national and international fame. He is no longer an athlete who is shooting just because there was a shooting range next to his gym. Instead, he is India’s best shooter in his category going into the games. His imagination, though, has now turned into a dream; he is mapping out a full calendar ahead that culminates in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There’s an unlucky subject though — his law career. Will the late bloomer’s best shot be enough for him to upset the scales in India colours in Tokyo Olympics? Only time has the answer to this question.