Manavjit Singh Sandhu beat two-time Olympic champion Michael Diamond en route to the men’s trap gold at the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Tucson, USA.
Manavjit outperformed quite handily Australia’s Diamond, who won gold in the 1996 Atlanta and Sydney Olympics in 2000, besides winning five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
The 37-year-old Manavjit, who won gold in the World Cup four years back, shot scores of 121 and 13 in the qualification and finals. Diamond scored 119 and nine in the qualifications and finals, respectively.
Manavjit Singh started his second day with a score of 72, which he shot on previous day. From there on, he hit 25 and 24 in the remaining two rounds and was ranked third in the qualifying round. As his series scores in the qualifying round indicate — 24, 25,23,25 and 24 — he was getting his consistency right and so it proved in the final round.
He was also aided by the poor form of Ireland’s Derek Burnett, who topped the qualifications with 123, but fell away in the latter stages. Alexey Alipov of Russia, who shot 121 and 12 settled for bronze.
“We had some of the world’s best shooters competing today. 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. Manavjit had last month clinched the Patiala Cup for the overall gross score in trap, double trap and skeet, at the Indian Shotgun Open.
In the Women section, Shreyasi Singh stood 6th in the finals of trap women event. Her qualification score was 66/75 but in the finals she could shoot only 8 targets and finished 6th.
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.
In a busy year, with the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games coming up, Manavjit has found form at the right time. As many as 64 quota places for the 2016 Rio Olympics will be up for grabs at the World Championships, scheduled to be held later this year in Grenada, Spain.
The former World No. 1 won gold at the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships, apart from a CWG gold in 1998 and four silver medals at the Asian Games level. In the 2008 Olympics he finished tied 10th. In 2010 he won gold at the trap shooting World Cup in Mexico.