The year so far has been a game-changer for Ankur Mittal and the double trap shooter feels he is finally reaping the rewards of putting in the hard yards over the past few years.
The 24-year-old burst onto the scene with a silver medal at the season-opening ISSF World Cup in Delhi last month. Less than a month later, Mittal has done one better, winning the double trap gold at the ISSF World Cup for shotgun in Acapulco, Mexico.
“All the hard work pays off here,” Mittal told PTI after his triumph.
Not surprisingly, the Delhi-based shooter who hails from Sonipat, Haryana, called the world record-equalling feat the “best achievement” in his fledgling career.
“It feels amazing to have won a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup away from home, and that too with a world record. This is my highest medal. I am really happy about my performance,” he said.
It has not yet fully struck him and the feeling will definitely take time to sink in.
“It’s a totally different, usually the feeling will strike when I get back home.”
In the final at Club de Caza, Mittal pipped his Australian rival James Willet, to whom he lost out at the capital’s Karni Singh Shooting Range, exacting his revenge in less than a month.
Mittal equalled the world record set by Willet in Delhi, recording 75 hits in the final — the same as his Australian rival.
Asked if the revenge was complete, the unassuming marksman preferred not to read too much into it.
“I wouldn’t call it a revenge. James is great shooter and winning and being defeated is all part of the game. The conditions in the finals range I would say were perfect. Wind affected most of the qualification rounds, but in the afternoon it was not so strong,” Mittal had said after the award ceremony.
The World Cup gold and silver aside, the double-trap shooter’s achievements include gold and bronze at the Asian Shooting Championships in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Even as the double trap event is on its way out as part of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) aim to attain gender equality in its Olympic Programme by 2020 Tokyo Games, Mittal is not thinking about it as yet.
The fact that the event will be there at next year’s Asian Games and Commonwealth Games is comforting for Mittal.
“It’s at least there till the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year, so I am focusing on it,” Mittal had said.
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