SPORT

Rathore's reign continues

ON TARGET, AGAIN: A focussed Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore snapped in action during the course of his gold-medal retaining performance in the double trap event at the National shotgun shooting championship in Tughlakabad on Wednesday. — Photo: Sandeep Saxena

ON TARGET, AGAIN: A focussed Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore snapped in action during the course of his gold-medal retaining performance in the double trap event at the National shotgun shooting championship in Tughlakabad on Wednesday. — Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

NEW DELHI DEC. 4. They strike when it matters. That is how they remain champions. Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Mansher Singh, two of the best in the shooting world, asserted their class in different ways on the concluding day of the National shotgun shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad on Wednesday.

While Major Rathore performed a hat-trick of National titles as he defended the double trap crown with a 174 out of 200, the trap champion Mansher showed his class by breathing down the neck of Rathore before walking away with the silver, three points behind.

When some of the better known names in the international arena like three-time National double trap champion Moraad Ali Khan, Ronjan Sodhi and Gaurav Sondhi could not hit an individual medal, Vikram Bhatnagar grabbed the bronze, as he shot admirably despite it being his maiden final.

For Rathore, the Commonwealth Games double gold medallist, it was about retaining his reputation, rather than get a big score. In fact, as everyone had been practising for the new rule that would be implemented in international competitions from January, none expected to score big.

Yet, it was to the credit of Rathore that he warded off a stiff challenge from Mansher, after lying one point behind him, before the final.

Rathore had rounds of 43, 45 and 44 and followed that with a 42 in the final. Though he was not too pleased with the way things went, Rathore was sure about his ability to take the gold.

"I had to do it. It was tough to get the rhythm, after practising differently all along. I was even tempted to stop and ask Moraad, as to what was going on. Yet, I had to win. I am happy that I did'', said Rathore, who was not too pleased with the idea of shooting with the obsolete system, despite the installation of new machines in the forthcoming National Games in Hyderabad.

Mansher was quite pleased with his fare, as he had practised just for a day, after having finished fifth in double trap in the last National championship.

"I was shooting the event, just for a change. It was nice to start with a 47 in the morning, and I just carried on. Rathore is a world class double trap shooter, and I did not expect to beat him to the gold, especially as I couldn't get adjusted to the speed of the birds in the final when I was a bit slow'', said Mansher Singh, even as he emphasised that he would love to be part of the National team in double trap as well.

The 32-year-old Vikram Bhatnagar, an MBA from Oxford, pursuing construction business in the Capital was a thrilled man, to be part of the best in the final, but was not overawed, and shot the best score among the finalists, with a 43.

He had shot 44, 39 and 42 earlier in the day to be in the fifth position at 125, going into the final three points behind Moraad and Dil Bahadur Thapa. Eventually, Vikram won the bronze with a three-point margin. Vikram's effort also helped Delhi clinch the team gold with a huge margin, ahead of Army.

"I didn't get my rhythm at all. The scores disappoint me, more than the fact that I didn't win a medal'', said Moraad Ali Khan, who finished fifth at 164, a point behind Thapa. Ronjan Sodhi, a member of the Asian Games squad, shot a 32 in the final to finish sixth with a 152, and was dazed for words.

The junior title went to Asab Ali of Uttar Pradesh, the tenth standard student of JIC College in Meerut. The women's crown was bagged by Shagun Chaudhary of Rajasthan, as she beat Major Rathore's cousin, Chandravati Rathore by a big margin, with a 91 out of 160.

Double trap results:

Individual: 1. Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Army) (132, 42) 174; 2. Mansher Singh (Del) (133, 38) 171; 3. Vikram Bhatnagar (Del) (125, 43) 168.

Team: 1. Delhi (Mansher Singh 133, Moraad Ali Khan 128, Vikram Bhatnagar 125) 386; 2. Army (Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore 132, Hem Raj 119, Krishan Kumar 102) 353; 3. Uttar Pradesh (Gaurav Sondhi 119, Romi Shiv 102, Shyam Singh Yadav 88) 309.

Juniors: 1. Asab Ali (UP) 108; 2. Birendeep Sodhi (IA) 95; 3. Lokeshwaran (TN) 91.

Women: 1. Shagun Chaudhary (Raj) (71, 20) 91; 2. Chandravati Rathore (Raj) (50, 14) 64; 3. Sumathi Muthalagan (TN) (46, 17) 63.

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