Bhowneesh Mendiratta earned India’s first quota for the 2024 Paris Olympics in shooting after taking a commendable fourth place in the men’s trap competition at the ongoing ISSF Shotgun World Championship in Osijek, Croatia. Bhowneesh narrowly missed a World Cup medal in the process, and was the first to bow with 13 of the first 15 hits in the 35-shot medal match. There were four quota places up for grabs on both the men’s and women’s stairs that day.
However, the 23-year-old world No. 144 (before the final) from Faridabad secured the Paris Olympics quota for the country after leading the second ranking round with a brilliant 24 out of 25 goals.
It was an outstanding performance by the Indian youngster, whose only senior medal on the world stage before that was a team silver at the Changwon World Cup earlier this year.
Earlier in the day, he completed his final qualifying round with a perfect 25/25 to finish with a score of 121. He eventually qualified fourth after finishing second in a four-way shoot-off to determine final qualifying positions.
Eight archers qualified for the two ranking rounds in the 154 strong field of participants. For seventh and eighth place there was an 11-way shoot-off.
Bhowneesh lined up with American Derrick Mein, world number three, Briton Aaron Heading and Qatari RH Al-Althba in the second ranking round. Derrick Mein had finished second, while Al-Athba and Heading were sixth and eighth respectively in qualifying.
Heading was the first to bow, hitting 11 goals out of the first 15. American Mein led with 15 clean hits, while Bhowneesh was second with 14 hits. Al-Athba from Qatar had 12 hits to his name at that time.
With the quota place on the line, the Indian shot out of his mind and then hit a straight 10 targets to top the round and seal the quota.
Mein missed his last three goals to get into a shoot-off with Al-Athba, which he won on the first shoot-off shot to get through.
They were joined in the final by Briton Nathan Hales and Kun Pi-Yang from Chinese Taipei, who had led the qualifying round with a score of 123. Hales won the first ranking round, while Yang came in second.
The Indian also started brilliantly in the final, but missed a crucial pigeon in the final five-stroke run to miss a medal. American Mein won gold with 33 hits, while Hales won silver with 31. Yang dropped out of the podium with 25 shots with 23 hits. All three medalists also took the other three quota places for their countries.
Among the other Indians, the veteran Prithviraj Tondaiman narrowly missed the shoot-offs to make the rankings, shooting 119 to finish in 22nd. The last two scores to advance to the ranking rounds were 120. Vivaan Kapoor was further back in 119th position with a score of 107.
India didn’t make much progress in the Women’s Trap with Neeru in 29th with a score of 111, Shreyasi Singh 35th with 110 and Manisha Keer finishing 61st overall with 102 hits after five rounds of 25 shots in qualifying.
Carole Cormenier of France won gold in the event. France, Spain, Slovakia and Australia have taken over the quota for the Paris Olympics.
India is currently joint fourth in the medal tally with one gold medal to their name.
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