William Vella came a whisker away from winning Malta’s first medal of the Small Nations Games after he was edged out to fourth place following a thrilling shoot-off with Liechtenstein’s Michael Mattle in the men’s Air Rifle final at the Gemeindessal range in Balzers this afternoon.

Vella, winner of a silver medal in the last edition of the Games in Cyprus, looked on course to secure his second podium finish in the GSSE after ending the first phase of the competition in third place on 564 points... just one ahead of Mattle.

The final barrage turned out to be a battle of nerves between the third shooters with Vella holding the edge after the opening four attempts.

Mattle managed to snatch third place with some precise shooting in the next five attempts to go into the last round with a 1.7 point-advantage over the Maltese shooter.

Vella seemed to have been given a lifeline when Mattle scored a poor 8.8 against his excellent 10.5 to force a shoot-off after both finishing on 662.6 points.

However, the tension of the shoot-off caught up with Vella who recorded a poor 7.9 against an excellent 10.6 by the Liechtenstein shooter who took bronze with an overall score of 672.8

The gold medal went to Marc-Andre Kessler, of Liechtenstein, who topped the event with 583 points while Cyprus’s Kostis Pitsilloudis placed second on 680.

In the women’s competition, Marianna Kisvardai failed to make the cut to the final when she placed eighth from 12 shooters. She finished with 372 points, five less than sixth-placed Anna Louiza Georgiou, of Cyprus.

The gold medal was won by Luxembourg’s Carole Calmes with 499.1 points. Cyprus Marilena Constantinou was second on 488 while Andorra’S Alvina Barrugues took bronze with 486.9.



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