William Chetcuti continued to hone his reputation as the country’s best prospect to achieve an unprecedented medal-winning success in the Olympic Games yesterday when he won the third leg of this year’s ISSF World Cup in Beijing, China.
The 26-year-old Double Trap ace prevailed in windy conditions and finished on the highest step of the podium with a total score of 185 (46+46+49+44).
Chetcuti claimed an historic gold medal and with that an automatic berth at next year’s London Olympics.
This was Chetcuti’s best ever result, bettering his previous top showing when finishing second at another World Cup shoot in Belgrade in 2005.
Entering the final in fourth place with a qualifying score of 141 hits out of 150 targets, Chetcuti smashed another 44 in the barrage, pocketing the brightest medal at stake and the Olympic Quota.
“This is the first World Cup gold medal and the first Olympic Quota ever won by a Maltese in any sport. I feel really proud and happy,” Chetcuti was quoted as saying at the end of the com-petition, yesterday.
“We always got wild cards to go to the Games in the past. I have been looking for this qualification for years. When I was competing well, there were no quotas to win.
“And when the quotas were there, I missed them by one target or so.
“I started when I was a 10-year old, as my father introduced me to the sport. Finally, after 15 years, my Olympic dream has come true.”
In all, 48 shooters took part in the men’s Double Trap competi-tion yesterday.
The remaining leg of the World Cup takes place in Slovenia in summer before the World Cup Final which was originally scheduled to be held in Egypt in October.
Chetcuti qualifies automatically for the Final but before that, he will represent the country in the Euro-pean and World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Meanwhile, the silver medal and the second Olympic Quota yesterday went to India’s 2010 World Cup Final winner Ronjan Sodhi, who climbed on the second step of the podium with an overall score of 183 hits.
“It feels great to win an Olympic pass for India,” the 31-year-old said.
“I was very close in the last two World Cup shoots and this thing was going through my mind. Also during the final, I was thinking about it, and maybe this is why I missed more than usual.
“I don’t know if I will be the one going to the Games, as we have to go through internal selections to make the Olympic Team. But the important thing is that India is now qualified to participate in the 2012 Games in London.”
In the race for the two Olympic berths, Chetcuti and Sodhi beat home shooter Li Jun.
Li qualified to participate in the barrage final in sixth and last place with 140 hits, then climbing the scoreboard to third place for a bronze medal with a total score of 182 targets.
2008 World Cup Final winner, Sweden’s Hakan Dahlby, yesterday placed fourth, 180. He was followed by Russians Vasily Mosin (177) and Vitaly Fokeev (176).
1. W. Chetcuti (Malta) - 141+44=185
2. R. Sodhi (India) - 142+41=183
3. Li Jun (China) - 140+42=182
4. H. Dahlby (Sweden) - 143+37=180
5. V. Mosin (Russia) - 142+35=177
6. V. Fokeev (Russia) - 141+35=176