Abhishek Verma, who had a lot of catch-up to do in the end, claimed bronze with a score of 221.8, while the third Indian in the fray, Shahzar Rizvi, finished fifth (177.1).
Rizvi was moved from the MQS (minimum qualification score) to the medal category after one of India’s pistol shooters in the fray tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday morning.
Gold-medallist Foroughi’s final score read 243.6 and Chaudhary’s 243.2, but a lot happened until those 0.4 points separated the top two finishers.
Excitement and nervousness touched its peak after the 12th shot. The 107th-ranked Foroughi looked back at his coach with a cheeky smile and punched the air. He was enjoying a comfortable lead, almost from the beginning. But then world No. 4 Chaudhary stepped up his game to show his class.
Chaudhary was seventh after the first series of five shots, then jumped to fourth after the next five. From the 13th shot onwards, his big-match temperament came to the fore, just to slip up right at the end.
A 10.7, 10.5, 10.5, 10.1, 10.6, 10.7 fired by Chaudhary from 13th to 18th shot snatched Foroughi’s smile away. The Indian was No. 2, and the Iranian’s one-time handsome lead was cut to just 0.3 points, as he looked to be succumbing to the pressure of the final.
The elimination of Brazil’s Felipe Almeida Wu at the fourth place confirmed two medals for India. Chaudhary was No. 2 at that point, behind Foroughi by 0.5 points.
From the 21st shot onward, the gold-medal battle was always going to be between Foroughi and Chaudhary. But the pressure turned it into a game of who shoots less but still more.
Chaudhary’s 21st shot was 9.7, Javad’s 9.6. Next, Chaudhary shot 9.8, Javad 9.6.
After the 22nd shot, Verma inserted his security flag into the barrel and stepped back to sit and watch the finale, having confirmed a bronze medal for himself.
Just 0.2 points separated the last two remaining shooters – Foroughi at the first position and Chaudhary at second.
Chaudhary pulled out all stops to hit a 10.1 next, while Foroughi could only manage 9.6. The top spot changed hands. The Iranian was pushed to No. 2, behind by 0.3 points.
It was down to last shot, and Foroughi had possibly saved his best just for that.
As the crowd clapped nervously, Foroughi pulled the trigger for a 10.5, and the final shot from Chaudhary’s pistol could only find a 9.8.
The gold slipped out of India’s hands, but a silver and bronze finish in the first ISSF competition in over a year shows that the Indian duo haven’t lost much ground.
Chaudhary and Verma continue to look the best men to write their names against the Tokyo Olympic quotas they had won for India in 2019.