Double trap shooter William Chetcuti believes he is on track to reach his objectives at the London Olympics after winning the silver medal at a World Cup shoot in Tucson, Arizona, on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old showed excellent form as he chalked up a total of 194 targets, his best score ever in overseas competitions, to finish second behind Peter Wilson. The Briton won gold with a new world record score of 198 from 200 to shatter the previous best of 196 set by China’s Hu Binyuan in 2009.
Young Nathan Lee Xuereb, still only 15, capped an excellent day for Maltese shooting when placing fourth overall with 191 points.
Chetcuti was happy with his result in the US shoot. “I’m really pleased with my performance,” he told The Times.
“With the biggest appointment of the year (the London Olympics) only months away, it was important to show that I can compete with the best shooters in my discipline. My primary objective was to reach the final.
“Once my place in the barrage was secure, I knew that I could aim for a place on the podium. Wilson proved too strong on the day and I was aware that I had little chance of taking gold but I managed to hold on to second place and I’m delighted with that.”
The Bidnija prodigy reckons that his success in Tucson represents a boost to his preparations for London 2012.
“There’s no doubt that this result will further raise my confidence as it proves that my success in last year’s World Cup shoot in Beijing was no flash in the pan,” he said.
“My main focus this year is to reach the London Games in the best possible condition by reaching a high level of consistency in my performances.
“Finishing second here was significant as I faced virtually all the shooters who will be vying for gold in London with the exception of the Chinese team who were not present.
“My aim in the run-up to the Olympic Games is to qualify for the final barrage in each competition I take part in as that would continue to lift my self-belief, besides giving me the necessary experience to perform at my best in an Olympic final.”
Chetcuti had words of praise for his young team-mate Xuereb who finished only two targets away from a place on the podium.
“Nathan is without doubt a talented shooter who has a great future ahead of him,” Chetcuti said.
“His performance in this competition made me proud as it showed that the boy has got great potential. I’m sure that he is more than capable of obtaining prestigious results in his career. The most important thing is that he keeps training with lot of enthusiasm and dedication.”
Chetcuti and Xuereb will travel to London in mid-April to compete in another World Cup shoot at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, the venue of the shooting competitions at the Olympics.
“I’m looking forward to competing in Woolwich as it should be a very useful experience in my preparations for the Games,” Chetcuti said.
“My goal is to make the final but it will not be easy. Nevertheless, things are looking good. I’ve never felt better in my career and this has also been the best year in terms of results. Hopefully there is more to come.”
For his part Xuereb was overjoyed with his performance after reaching the final of a World Cup shoot for the first time in his career.
“It’s difficult to find words to describe the joy I’m feeling at the moment,” Xuereb, who has been competing on the international stage since 2009, said.
“This was my first World Cup final appearance and certainly the result has increased my determination to keep working hard and improve my shooting ability. I know that I still have a lot of work to do to reach the level of the best shooters in my discipline but this was definitely a step in the right direction.
“To compete with a great shooter like William is a great privilege for me. He encourages me during training and gives me good advice. I hope that one day, I will be able to enjoy the success William has achieved.”
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