Indian shooting took another giant stride on Thursday when Ronjan Sodhi equalled the world record en route to clinching gold in double-trap at the ISSF World Cup in Belgrade. A sign of the growing clout of Indian marksmen, the 29-year-old Delhi shooter, achieved the unthinkable as he demolished an awe-inspiring field comprising the likes of Britain's Richard Faulds and Italy's Daniele Di Spigno to bag the medal with an aggregate score of 194.
“To win gold with a world record-equalling performance is a great feeling,” said Ronjan who was recently blessed with a son. “A lot of good things are happening at the same time…what can I say, it's all God's grace,” said the marksman, who has been amongst the top for the last two years but was unlucky to miss out on an Olympic quota berth.
“The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) should now try even harder for an Olympic wildcard for me,” said Ronjan who finished fifth at the ISSF World Cup at Kerrville last month with a national record of 145 to boot.
The champion shot a superb 147 out of 150 (49, 48, 50) after three rounds of qualification to go into the final leading the pack of six. Even as Athens Olympic silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore fizzled out and finished 24th with 134 points, Ronjan breezed into the final with a two point cushion over Richard Faulds. Ronjan's 147 equalled the World Record (WR) jointly held by Faulds (May 2008, ISSF World Cup, Suhl) and Australia's Michael Diamond (1998 World Championships, Barcelona).
Ronjan, coached by Olympic gold-medallist Mark Russell of Australia, then shot another great round of 47/50 in the final to equal the nine-year-old Final World Record (FWR) till now held by Italian Daniele Di Spigno (World Championships, Tampere, 1999).
“It is the blessing of my friends and team-mates that has got me here. I would especially like to thank Moraad Ali Khan (former double-trap shooter and national champion) who has been more than a friend to me. Also, my thanks to Mittal Champions Trust who have given me the monetary support needed in such an expensive sport,” Ronjan told HT from Belgrade.
“I would like (RVS) Rathore to go and win a medal in Beijing as he is a senior team-mate…I'm sure he will do well,” said the champion who had won a World Cup bronze in Santo Domingo (Dominican Rebublic) last year.
Here in India, jubilant father Malvinder Sodhi said, "It’s too good to be true. The credit for this achievement goes to coach Mark Russell.”
1. Ronjan Sodhi (Ind) (49, 48, 50) 147 + 47 = 194 (Equalled World Record & Equalled Final World Record); 2. Richard Faulds (Bri) (48, 49, 48) 145 + 47 = 192; 3. Hakan Dahlby (Swe) (47, 48, 49) 144 + 47 = 191; 4. R Gerebis (Hun) (48, 46, 50) 144 + 46 = 190; 5. D Di Spigno (Ita) (46, 47, 49) 142 + 47 = 189; 6. Vasily Mosin (Rus) (46, 48, 49) 143 + 45 = 188.