Asian Games gold medallist Ronjan Sodhi nailed the elusive gold as he won men’s double trap in the 57th National shooting championship on Monday.

After having qualified in the fifth place with a 128 and then elevated to the fourth spot when defending champion Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (129) opted out of the finals, the 34-year-old Ronjan revealed glimpses of his class in the climax. After having won nine medals on the global stage, including four gold against the best in the business, it was a relief for Ronjan to clinch his maiden title in the national championship.

“I am happy to win this gold. Of course, it is just the start and the focus is to do well in the Commonwealth and Asian Games apart from the World Championship,” said Ronjan.

Ronjan topped the semifinalists with 28 out of 30, as he missed a bird at the start and the finish. He did not face any challenge from the former champion Ajay Mittal in the gold medal contest as the latter missed five of the first 14 birds, after having fought his way past brother Ankur and Mohammed Asab in a shoot off.

Asab unlucky

Ronjan said that it was unfair in a way that Asab, who had held a five-point lead over him in qualification, should be reduced to the bronze medal, owing to the new zero-start rule.

Asab, who had done very well in shooting a world record 136 on way to the fourth place in the Acapulco World Cup this season, shot a perfect 30 in the bronze medal match. Former World junior champion Asher Noria had a forgettable semifinals as he shot 20, after having logged 130 in qualification.

In the juniors, Kabir Singh Dhillon won with 119, ahead of his guru Mansher Singh’s son Jaisal Singh who beat Sanjay Rathore 2-1 in the shoot-off for the silver after being tied on 115.

It was an impressive performance as Kabir had started shooting only this season and had won the Mavlankar, North Zone and Delhi State competitions along the way. Defending champion Shayan Masood was fourth with 113. Olympian Sanjeev Rajput was in irrepressible form in the free rifle 3-position event as he beat Olympic and World Championship medallist Gagan Narang by 7.5 points. Sanjeev said that he was pleased with the qualification score of 1174, two points away from his National record, but conceded that he needed to improve a lot in the final.

Gagan himself was happy and felt “fantastic”’ after having been away from the sport for the last few months owing to a leg injury, which he termed as “career threatening.”

“It is just the beginning, and we have a long year ahead. Need to peak at the right time,” said Gagan. He will shoot the air rifle qualification on the morrow and possibly join Abhinav Bindra and Sanjeev Rajput in the final.

The results: Men: Free rifle 3-position: 1. Sanjeev Rajput 456.1 (1174); 2. Gagan Narang 448.6 (1159); 3. Chain Siangh 437.1 (1159). Juniors: 1. Navdeep Singh Rathore 1121; 2. Shubham Malik 1120; 3. Subhankar Pramanick 1116.

Double trap: 1. Ronjan Sodhi 27 (28) 128; 2. Ajay Mittal 25 (27)14 (125); 3. Mohd. Asab 30 (27)11 (133); 4. Ankur Mittal 27 (27)13 (132).

Juniors: 1. Kabir Singh Dhillon 119; 2. Jaisal Singh 115(2); 3. Sanjay Singh Rathore 115(1).

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