Young Gianluca Chetcuti ensured that Malta will retain its supremacy in the double trap at the Games of the Small States of Europe with a dramatic victory at the Shooting Arena in Serravalle to hand the team its third overall gold medal in the 2017 GSSE.
Team Malta has enjoyed sustained success in the discipline in the GSSE over the years with William Chetcuti securing the gold medal in all three previous editions when double trap was held, Malta 2003, Andorra 2005 and Cyprus 2009.
During the morning qualifiers, William Chetcuti had given the impression that he was set to add a fourth gold medal when he completed dominated the opening phase, amassing 134 points to finish 14 clear of second-placed Gianluca Chetcuti and 16 clear of Cyprus shooter Leontiou Leontios.
However, William Chetcuti lost his focus in the final when missing four clays in the opening stages and Malta’s leading shooter never managed to regain his touch and was the third shooter to be eliminated in the final to finish fourth.
All the onus here fell on Gianluca Chetcuti who went on to set up a final showdown with Leontios.
Starting three points behind it looked as though the young shooter would have to settle with the silver medal
But the veteran Cypriot shooter missed five of the last six clays to pave the way for Chetcuti to smash his way to victory.
Djovadis Savvides, of Cyprus, took the bronze medal.
“I was not so happy with my qualifying score but my coach, Jimmy Bugeja, told me that all I had to do is to refocus for the final as my opportunity to win was still there,” Gianluca Chetcuti said.
“In the final I kept hold of my nerves and even though I was trailing my rival by three points I kept fighting and waiting for the opportunity and when the chance came I made the most of it.
“I came here with the sole aim to ensure that Malta would stay at the top of the podium in this discipline and I am pleased to have completed the job.”
On his part, coach Jimmy Bugeja said that he was happy for Gianluca Chetcuti who has again proved what a great prospect he is.
“I always had faith in Gianluca as he is the kind of shooter who always reserves his best for the competition finals and today he simply delivered yet again,” Bugeja said.
“He has been showing for few months now that he has a great future. In his first World Cup this year in Cyprus he qualified to the final and placed fourth overall so the kid is not wary of the pressure of competition and that is a great virtue to have.
“As regards William Chetcuti after a brilliant qualifying round he committed some mistakes in his technique and he never recovered but I’m sure that he will bounce back from this setback.”
The clay shooting programme will come to an end with the skeet competition where Malta is hoping to have two other shooters in the final.
Yesterday, Clive Farrugia ended the first three qualifying rounds in third place with 67 points, just three adrift of joint-leaders Georgios Achilleos and Andreas Chasikos, both of Cyprus.
Bozidhar Dimitrov, has still some work to do when he finished the day seventh on 62 points, two behind sixth-placed Hakon Svaarsson, of Iceland.
Today, the eight participating shooters will be in action in the final two qualifying rounds with the top six shooters making the final.
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