National Shotgun championship: Manavjit Singh Sandhu reigns supreme

Manavjit Singh Sandhu secured a thrilling 42-41 victory over Vishadev Singh Sidhu to pocket the gold medal at the National Shotgun championship on Friday.

Vishavdev Singh Sidhu (L), champion Manavjit Sandhu and Kynan Chenai pose with IOA president Narinder Batra and NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia at the medal presentation ceremony of the 63rd National Shotgun championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Former World Champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu showed that he was still the best in the country as he clinched the men’s trap gold for the umpteenth time, with a thrilling 42-41 victory over Vishadev Singh Sidhu in the 63rd National Shotgun championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Friday.

Manavjit, a six-time Asian champion, had to endure a shoot-off on 120 with six others for five spots in the final behind leader Kynan Chenai (121). In the final, the 43-year-old laid a solid foundation by shooting 23 out of the first 25, which carried him through.

Vishavdev Sidhu did have the lead before the last 10 shots to decide the gold but missed a string of birds early, which meant that Manavjit  could not lose with the last three birds to go. Vishavdev shot all the last three and Manavjit shot one of the three, which made it decisive.

"Becoming the national champion is very special, especially after the disappointment in the recent Asian Championship. The final could have gone either way, and that makes it more special. The past is mere history, and you are only as good as your last result," said Manavjit.

He was particularly proud the way he picked himself up after the disaster of 22 out of 25 in the second round, to shoot 74 out of 75 in the next three. "I am looking forward to the World Cup here in Delhi. You never know what is in store. I never give up," he stated, as he hinted about the possibility of men’s trap getting an Olympic quota through world ranking.

"Of course, it is very disappointing that we have not won any trap quota this time. Skeet shooters have done very well. We have to find the reason for trap shooting not being the flag bearer of shotgun sport in the country," added Manavjit, who competed in the last four Olympics.

Olympian Kynan, who shot 75 out of the first 75, was not in similar form thereafter and settled for bronze.  Yuvraj Kumar Mahajan pipped Prithviraj Tondaiman to the fourth place, while Jungsher Virk finished sixth.

Manavaditya Singh Rathore and Anant Shivan Pratap Singh lost the shoot-off to make the men’s final. However, Manavaditya signed off from the junior circuit in style, by winning the gold, with a 45-44 victory over Jungsher Virk. He had won the title six years back for the first time. Vivaan Kapoor won the bronze ahead of Shardul Vihan, Vibhu Sharma and Vishwa Kundu.

National coach Mansher Singh, who himself shot 117, said that it was encouraging to find so many new shooters coming up with high scores. "It is very good that we have a shoot off at 120 to make the national final. This experience will help our shooters in the international circuit," said Mansher.

The president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Narinder Kumar Batra, presented the medals.

The results:

Trap:

Men: 1. Manavjit Singh Sandhu 42 (120); 2. Vishavdev Singh Sidhu 41 (120); 3. Kynan Chenai 32 (121)
Team: 1. Punjab 358; 2. Rajasthan 356; 3. Haryana 351.

Junior men: 1. Manavaditya Singh Rathore 45 (120); 2. Jungsher Virk 44 (120); 3. Vivaan Kapoor 35 (119)
Team: 1. Rajasthan 351; 2. Haryana 345; 3. Madhya Pradesh 339.