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Shotgun Sodhi finally provides golden touch to shooters' show

Last updated on: November 21, 2010 13:51 IST

World record holder shotgun shooter Ronjan Sodhi finally provided the golden touch to Indian marksmen's campaign at the Asian Games when he won the men's double trap individual event in Guangzhou, on Sunday.

Sodhi clinched the top honours with a score of 186 after being second behind China's Pan Qiang at the end of the qualification stage.

The 31-year-old Asian champion, part of the silver winning squad in the same event four years ago at Doha in Qatar, also reeled in the team bronze for India with his stupendous effort at the Guangzhou Shotgun Centre.

Sodhi shot 139 (47, 44 and 48) and was four shots behind China's Qiang going into the finals competed by six men and shot 47 in the final while the host nation shooter flopped with a 38 for an overall tally of 181.

Al Maktoum Shaikh of UAE, who shot 138 in the qualification, also fell behind the Indian when shooting for the gold and could score only 44 for a final tally of 182 that fetched him a silver medal.

Ronjan SodhiIn the shoot-off for third place among Hamad Ali Al Marri of Qatar, Fehaid Aldehani of Kuwait and Qiang, the Qatari shooter prevailed to win the bronze with 181.

This was the first gold from the much-heralded shooting squad after they started competing on November 13 and it was also the eighth medal hauled in by the marksmen and women who have so far won one gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

Sodhi, whose best this year has been 195 that he made in the World Cup in Italy, and is the joint holder of the world record of 196, said the medal round was tension-packed.

"The final was very, very close. In the final, it's a different ball game. People start missing and that happened (today)," he said.

Arjuna awardee (2009) Sodhi, who started shooting eight years ago, said the weather conditions made things difficult for the trap shooters.

"The double trap in Asia is difficult. It was tough today due to the weather conditions. In the final, people were dropping a lot of targets," added the two-time World Cup champion. While Sodhi won the top honours in the individual, he combined with Asher Noria and Vikram Bhatnagar (16, 130) to rake in the team bronze medal with a combined aggregate of 403.

Noria shot 46, 45 and 43 in the qualification while Bhatnagar came up with a sequence of 47, 40 and 43.

The gold went to China (414) and the silver was grabbed by Kuwait (407).

Noria (134, 11th) and Bhatnagar (130, 16th), however, could not make the finals of the individual event.

A visibly relieved chief coach Sunny Thomas said Sodhi had redeemed the situation that looked bleak for the shooting squad which had come here with a lot of hopes after scooping 30 medals, including 14 gold, in October's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"I heave a sigh of relief. Sodhi has broken the jinx and got us ultimately what we wanted, a gold which was eluding us. Even on the first day we missed the gold by a whisker (and ended up with two silver in the 10m air rifle event)," said Thomas.

"It's the perfect gift Sodhi has given on Guru Nanak's birthday today. He has given us the gold to celebrate," said Thomas who will step down from his post after 17 years in the job.

"When he went into the final he trailed by four points and then to win it by 3 points is a great feat," he added.

"This shooting team is extremely good. There are some extremely good shooters who shot extremely bad. It has never happened before. I don't know what was happening," he reiterated.

With only the skeet events left, in which India has very few hopes, the Indian shooting squad could, in all probability return with only eight medals as compared to the 14 (3 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze) won in Doha in 2006.

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