Guwahati: In a proud moment for the nation as well as the state, 17-year-old Assamese shooter Hriday Hazarika notched up a gold medal in the 10m men’s air rifle (junior) category in a nerve-wracking shoot-off at the ongoing International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship in Changwon, Korea. Incidentally, Hazarika missed the world record by an incredible 0.1 point.
Hazarika, the lone Indian to qualify for the final with a score of 627.3, was tied with Iran's Mohammed Amir Nekounam on 250.1 once the field was pruned to the regulation top eight. But Hazarika claimed the top honours after prevailing in a shoot-off at the tournament.
The bronze went to Russia's Grigorii Shamakov, who managed a score of 228.6 in the final. The Indian team, comprising Hazarika, Divyansh Panwar and Arjun Babuta, finished fourth with a combined total of 1872.3.
Born after the turn of the century, Hazarika started shooting a few years ago. Hriday hails from a non-sporting family as both his parents are school teachers. He started shooting in Guwahati and qualified for the Kumar Surendra Singh National Championships soon after. He also claimed the top spot and won gold in men’s 10m air rifle at SSF Junior World Cup in Shul, Germany earlier this year.
Hriday has been performing domestically well even at youth levels. It was at the championship that Hriday showcased his talents as he created a Junior national record.
Among his most notable victories was a clean sweep during the Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Masters Shooting Championships in New Delhi. The youngster took part in three events and claimed the gold medal in all of them.