Indian hegemony continues

Manavjit Sandhu successfully defended his gold medal.-V. SUDERSHAN

The remarkable thing about India's performance was the ability of the trap shooters to assert themselves with a 1-2-3, writes KAMESH SRINIVASAN.

It came as no surprise that India, with world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in its ranks, dominated the Asian Clay Shooting Championship, yet again, in Singapore.

But what was really significant was the ability of the Indian trap shooters to assert themselves with a remarkable 1-2-3, with the seasoned Mansher Singh and Anwer Sultan following close on the heels of Manavjit to the podium. In the process, the trio got the team gold with a record 359 out of 375.

"After the World Championship gold, I was expected to win, but I had not trained that well. I am happy that I delivered the gold under pressure,'' said Manavjit, who pipped Mansher by a point.

"I am glad to be pushed by my team-mates. Our target is the Asian Games gold, and it augurs well that all three of us are shooting well,'' he added.

Manavjit will be getting ready for the World Cup final in Grenada before he trains his gun on the Asian Games in Doha.

If Manavjit showed character in defending his gold medal, after having trailed the leader by two points on the opening day when the machines malfunctioned, Rathore showed his class by bagging the double-trap gold for the fifth time on the trot. He shot a 190 out of 200 — just one point short of his career-best total he shot at Bisley while winning his maiden international individual medal, the gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

"It is basically about refining yourself. The quest for knowledge never ends. I am glad that I have maintained a high plateau of performance,'' said Rathore, who was quite pleased with his ability to dominate a field that had the Olympic bronze medallist, a World Cup silver medallist, apart from a couple of medal winners at the Asian Games.

Rathore bagged the double-trap gold for the fifth successive time.-R.V. MOORTHY

It has been a learning experience for Rathore at the Asian Championships all these years. He has indeed come a long way from the time he missed the bronze due to his nervousness and the fear of failure. "Winning a medal in 2001 would have been a great thing, but I lost out to nerves. Now more than anything, I have the belief in myself. In those days I didn't believe that I could be in the finals,'' said Rathore who has won the gold on the trot since 2002.

"It is great, and gives me tremendous confidence. It is nice to defend your gold medals, and it was indeed a nice feeling that I could defend the Commonwealth Games gold,'' said Rathore, as he reflected on some of the high points of his career.

Of course, Rathore has also won the World Cup gold twice apart from claiming the World Championship bronze, but the seeds of a solid sporting career were sown at the Asian Championships that he has been competing in since 1999. Those early failures have truly been the stepping stone to his success, and Rathore has been a brilliant student of the sport, learning at every step.

Unlike Manavjit and Rathore, Arti Singh failed to defend the women's skeet gold that she won last year in Bangkok. Ronjan Sodhi, who helped Rathore win the team gold, also missed out on an individual bronze in the tie-shoot. However, overall the Indian squad did a splendid job.

As Rathore put it appropriately, "Indian shooting has grown manifold from 2002 to 2006, as people have drawn the lessons and have started believing in their ability to excel at the international level."


Trap: 1. Manavjit Singh Sandhu 141 (120); 2. Mansher Singh 140 (120); 3. Anwer Sultan 138 (119).

Team: 1. India 359; 2. China 344; 3. Chinese Taipei 338.

Double trap: 1. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore 190 (142); 2. Saif Alshamsy (UAE) 186 (141); 3. Rashid al Athba (Qatar) 185 (142); 4. Ronjan Sodhi 185 (138); 10. Vikram Bhatnagar 136; 15. Vikram Chopra 132.

Team: 1. India 416; 2. Chinese Taipei 409; 3. UAE 406.

Skeet: 1. Nasser Al-Attiya (Qat) 146 (122); 2. Saif Bin Futtais (UAE) 143 (119); 3. Wang Ying (Chn) 143 (119); 22. Amit Sanghi 111; 28. Amardeep Singh Rai 108; 32. Baba Prithviraj Bedi 107.

Team: 1. UAE 354; 2. China 352; 3. Kazakhstan 348; 10. India 326.

Women's trap: 1. Yukie Nakayama 84 (63); 2. Zhou Chao (Chn) 83 (65) 1; 3. Wang Yu Jin (Chn) 83 (64); 8. Shagun Chowdhary 61.

Women's skeet: 1. Yu Xiu Min (Chn) 93 (71); 2. Zhang Dong Lian (Chn) 93 (69); 3. Madoka Inami (Jpn) 91 (66); 6. Arti Singh 88 (66).