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Elements, pressure no deterrent for Ronjan

What the gigantic Indian shooting contingent couldn't achieve, Ronjan Sodhi accomplished in the most professional manner by clinching gold in one of the toughest disciplines in Asian Games' competition -- double-trap. Ajai Masand reports.

other Updated: Nov 22, 2010 02:41 IST
Ajai Masand

What the gigantic Indian shooting contingent couldn't achieve, Ronjan Sodhi accomplished in the most professional manner by clinching gold in one of the toughest disciplines in Asian Games' competition — double-trap.

An overcast sky, dropping visibility and dipping temperatures are not the ideal conditions, but the seasoned marksman, whose amazing run started in 2008 when he clinched his first World Cup gold at Belgrade in 2008 and then added another in Lonatao (Italy) this year, overcame the hurdles and much more to come out triumphant in a field that had the likes of United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Al-Makhtoum and China's top-shot Pan Qiang. In fact, Qiang, who knows the scenic range like the back of his hand, was the one who felt the heat on Sunday.

Going into the final four points behind Qiang (143), Ronjan (139) had to calm his nerves and wait for his opponent to make mistakes.

Luck was on Ronjan's side and the “pressure that India had not bagged even a single gold in shooting” was the driving factor. And the ‘driver’ was his Perazzi gun. It’s rare to even make up a two-three point lead, a four-point lead is like climbing the Everest.

Here, Ronjan was assisted not only by his determination to win, but also by the self-destructive ways of Qiang who shot a pathetic 38/50 in the finals. He dropped four positions to come fifth.

On Sunday Ronjan was a picture of poise as he dropped just three birds in the finals to total 47/50. His aggregate of 186 (139+47) was enough to put him on the top, though a score like this in an international competition is not even good for a 10th position.

It had to do with the weather. Sighting birds in overcast and slightly foggy conditions is a shotgun shooter's nightmare. But Ronjan was determined to turn this disadvantage to his advantage. Even Qiang, who entered the final after shooting a world-class 143, fell victim to the elements.

Starting the day with a 47/50 in the first series, Ronjan, whose latest achievements have been a gold at the elite World Cup Finals in Turkey and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, slipped badly in the second series, shooting a modest 44/50. But a 48 in the last series, which decides the finalists, saw him jump from nowhere to second position. Even as hope faded, Ronjan pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the final, firing a 47 to cover the four-point lead to emerge winner.

Earlier, teaming up with the young Asher Gusti Noria and Vikram Bhatnagar, the double-trap team also clinched bronze with a score of 403. Ronjan Sodhi’s past performances