8:34 pm - Tuesday November 10, 2015

Manavjit Singh Sandhu shoots past Olympic champion to win World Cup gold

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Tucson, USA: India’s Manavjit Singh Sandhu produced some excellent shooting to clinch the men’s trap gold medal ahead of two-time Olympic champion Michael Diamond at the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Tucson, USA.

The 37-year-old Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee shot scores of 121 and 13 in the qualification and finals, respectively, to finish on the podium with the gold medal around his neck.

It was some achievement by the former world number one Indian and world champion as he was up against Australia’s Diamond, who had won the top prize in the 1996 Atlanta and Sydney Olympics in 2009, besides winning five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. Yesterday, Diamond shot 119 and nine in the qualifications and finals, respectively.

Manavjit scored 14 out of 15 targets in the semifinals. The Indian sharpshooter had last won at the World Cup stage four years ago. The bronze medal went to Alexey Alipov of Russia who shot 121 and 12.

Ireland’s Derek Burnett, who topped the scoring in the qualifications with 123, failed to replicate his form in the semifinals where six shooters competed. “We had some of the world’s best shooters competing on Saturday.

Winning the match against Michael Diamond has been definitely challenging but at the end you have to hit your own target, and the final score is what it is,” Manavjit said after his win. “I have prepared for this first World Cup throughout the winter season. We had several championships and trials in India in the last months. I never stopped shooting,” the shooter, currently ranked 16th in the world, added.

One of the finest shotgun shooters in the country, Manavjit had clinched the Patiala Cup last month for the overall gross score in trap, double trap and skeet, at the Indian Shotgun Open here. In the 2012 London Olympics, Manavjit finished 16th in the qualification round at the Royal Artillery Barracks and failed to enter the final of men’s trap event.

But this win will warm him up nicely for the busy international calendar ahead, with the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games all lined up from July to September. As many as 64 quota places for 2016 Rio Olympics will be up for grabs at the World Championships, scheduled to be held later this year in Grenada, Spain.

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