National shotgun c'ship: Ankur Mittal prevails in double trap

Ankur Mittal stayed calm and emphasised his supremacy amongst a bunch of hungry juniors as he beat Shardul Vihan 29-26 for the men’s doubles trap gold in the 60th National shotgun championship, at the JDA Range here on Saturday.

(From left): Silver-medallist Shardul Vihan, champion Ankur Mittal and Gursher Singh Kohli.   -  kamesh srinivasan

Ankur Mittal stayed calm and emphasised his supremacy amongst a bunch of hungry juniors as he beat Shardul Vihan 29-26 for the men’s doubles trap gold in the 60th National shotgun championship, at the JDA Range here on Saturday.

With defending champion Mohd. Asab missing the final by one point, Asian Games gold-medallist Ronjan Sodhi losing the shoot-off after being tied on 133 with three others for the last two berths, and the likes of former champion Ajay Mittal (129) and Sangram Dahiya (128) faring below their best, the onus was on the 24-year-old Ankur to show the utility of experience.

In the event, Ankur who topped the qualification with 138 and had to endure a three-way shoot-off for the gold contest, after being tied on 26 in the semifinal, was absolutely top class in the gold match after missing the second bird.

"I was confident that I would win the gold, once I won the shoot-off," said Ankur, who had won the title two years ago for the first time in Patiala. More than Ankur’s efficiency, the story of the day was the superlative performance of 13-year-old Shardul Vihan, an eighth standard student of Dayawati Modi Academy in Meerut, who is coached by the former Asian trap champion, Olympian Anwer Sultan.

Shardul won the men’s silver after topping the semifinal with 29, and had endured the shoot-off earlier to make the cut along with Gursher Singh Kohli, on shooting 133 in the qualification phase.

The young lad who has already been assured of the scholarship support of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), was a class act in the juniors as he won the gold, beating Gursher Kohli 29-25.

"I am happy with the medals. I could have done better in the men’s final," said Shardul.

It was a happy ending for Gursher Kohli, the grandson of the seasoned sports administrator Tarlochan Singh, the senior vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

A first-year Khalsa College student from Delhi, Gursher did well to win the senior bronze medal ahead of overnight leader Shapath Bharadwaj, 28-22.

"I am happy to have won two shoot-off on way to the medals," said Gursher.

The 14-year-old Shapath did not win an individual medal this day, but gained immense knowledge about the swings in fortunes, if the mischievous mind was not controlled by a sound temparament.

After missing only six birds out of first 120, Shapath missed eight in the fifth round, even as a world junior record score of 142 darted in front of him. The national junior coach Vikram Chopra advised Shapath to stay calm, but it was easier said than done.

Eventually, Shapath did qualify comfortably for both the knock-out stages in men and juniors with a total of 136, the third best overall behind Ankur and Ahvar Rizvi, the junior champion of the last edition who ended with the bronze this time.

Shapath missed the junior medal rounds by one point and could not catch up with Gursher in the junior fight for the bronze medal. Coach Yoginder Pal Singh, who was placed 20th with 124, had a double blow as his other ward Aditya Vikram Singh (134) also crashed out before the medal rounds.

It was tough education for the wards and coach alike, as sport showed its nature of teasing the athletes and making room for a fascinating study.

The results:

Double trap: Men: 1. Ankur Mittal 29 (26)20 (138); 2. Shardul Vihan 26 (29) 133(2); 3. Gursher Singh Kohli 28 (26)19 (133)2; 4. Shapath

Bharadwaj 22 (26)3 (136).

Team: 1. Uttar Pradesh 397; 2. Haryana 395; 3. Uttarakhand 391.

Junior men: 1. Shardul Vihan 29 (27) 133; 2. Gursher Singh Kohli 25 (27) 133; 3. Ahvar Rizvi 29 (26) 137; 4. Priyanshu Pandey 25 (26) 133.

Team: 1. Delhi 386; 2. Uttar Pradesh 369; 3. Madhya Pradesh 365.