Manavjit Singh Sandhu was close to his brilliant best as he tamed a strong field to be crowned champion in the region for the sixth time in the Asian shotgun championship at the New Motibagh Gun Club here on Saturday.

After winning the Asian gold with a three-point margin, the former World champion, Manavjit Sandhu went on to assert his class in the Maharaja Yadavindra Singh Indian Open Grand Prix, by beating another former World Champion Khaled Almudhaf of Kuwait by two points. His victory, which also saw the two-time Asian Games champion Naser Meqlad of Kuwait being reduced to the bronze medal, fetched $6,000 for Manavjit Sandhu.

“It is difficult to come back after the Olympics and it calls for great character. I am glad to win the gold medals at home. For all the government support, we need to show something, and I just dug it out today,” said an elated Manavjit Sandhu.

A class act

Though he had trailed by one point after three rounds spread over two days, Manavjit Sandhu was a class act this day as he shot rounds of 25 and 24 in the morning to take a three-point lead over Naser Meqlad and Shigetaka Oyama. Though he missed the first bird in the final, he was superb in smashing the flash targets with the single-barrel, and had in fact ensured the gold after knocking the 23rd clay bird.

The Japanese got away with the silver, as Meqlad missed the 25th bird. Anirudh Singh and Prithviraj Tondaiman had played a splendid role in fetching the team gold for India against the might of Kuwait, but could not pull their weight in the final.

London Games bronze medallist Fehaid Aldeehani of Kuwait who had won the double trap silver here earlier, did not make the final with a total of 105.

In the Grand Prix final, Manavjit Sandhu was absolutely flawless and had missed only the fifth bird when he ensured victory with two birds still left to shoot. He did miss the last bird, but a round of 23 after the emotionally draining experience of the Asian final revealed the reserves of his mental strength.

“The final is a litmus test, and I was really determined,” said Manavjit Sandhu who had a problem with his rifle stock in the morning and had suffered a cut in his finger just before the final.

While the Kuwaitis swept $7,000 between them for the second and third place in the Grand Prix, the Italian Rodolfo Vigano who had led the field with a total of 119 missed five of the first eight birds and eventually eight birds in all to lose the bronze by one point.

The two World junior champions Talal Alrashidi and Abdulrahman Al Faihan of Kuwait were unable to match the super stars in the Grand Prix field. The former missed the last two birds in the final while the latter could not build much on his qualification score of 113, with a final of 21.

The results:

Men’s trap: 1. Manavjit Singh Sandhu 138 (117); 2. Shigetaka Oyama (Jpn) 135 (114); 3. Naser Meqlad (Kuw) 134 (114); 5. Anirudh Singh 127 (109); 6. Prithviraj Tondaiman 123 (112). MQS: Mansher Singh 109; Zoravar Singh Sandhu 106.

Team: 1. India 338; 2. Kuwait 332; 3. Japan 314.

Grand Prix: 1. Manavjit Singh Sandhu 140 (117); 2. Khaled Almudhaf (Kuw) 138 (115); 3. Naser Meqlad (Kuw) 137 (114); 7. Prithviraj Tondaiman 112; 8. Vikram Deo Singh 111; 9. Mansher Singh 109; 10. Anirudh Singh 109; 11. Anwer Sultan 107; 12. Zoravar Singh Sandhu 106.

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