It was a moment to cherish for world champion pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary when he met multiple-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand in Zagreb, Croatia, on Saturday.
The two champions ran into each other at a dinner hosted by the Indian ambassador in Croatia for the visiting sportspersons and some local Indian dignitaries.
Saurabh, 19, who won the 10m air pistol junior title at the ISSF World Championships in Changwon, South Korea, in 2018, is in Croatia with the Tokyo Olympics bound Indian shooting contingent for a camp. Anand, who held the world classical chess title from 2007 to 2013, is there to compete in the Croatia-leg of the Grand Chess Tour, to be played from July 5 to 12.
Anand told Saurabh that he has been hearing fantastic things about the shooters and hope that they would excel in the Olympics too.
“Saurabh was very excited to meet Anand. Actually, we were all excited because it was for the first time we were going to meet such a legendary figure interacting with him. We all know about Anand but to meet him personally was a memorable moment for all of us,” national pistol coach Samresh Jung told IANS.
Jung said Anand told them about his visit to Croatia and about his experience of playing sport.
“Anand conveyed his wishes to the shooters for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) tweeted photographs of the shooters meeting with Anand on Saturday.
The shooters are on an 80-day training camp in Zagreb from where they will leave for Tokyo. They had recently participated in the ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia, where Saurabh won a bronze in the 10m individual and then partnered with Manu Bhaker to win a silver in the mixed team event. Rahi Sarnobat won gold in 25m air pistol in that event.
The Grand Chess Tour is the first over-the-board event for Anand since March 2020 when he got stuck in Europe after the Bundesliga matches were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After this event, he will play a tournament in Dortmund, Germany.