Bhowneesh Mendiratta earned India’s first 2024 Paris Olympic quota in shooting, after he finished a commendable fourth in Men’s Trap at the ongoing ISSF Shotgun World Championship in Osijek, Croatia.
Bhowneesh missed a world championship medal narrowly in the process, being the first to bow out with 13 out of the first 15 hits in the 35-shot medal match. There were four quota places each up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s trap event on the day. The 23-year-old world number 144 (before the final) from Faridabad, however, secured the Paris Olympics quota for the country after he topped the second ranking round match with a brilliant 24 out of 25 hits.
It was an excellent effort from the Indian youngster, whose only senior medal at the world stage before this was a Team silver at the Changwon World Cup earlier in the year. Earlier in the day, he completed his final qualification round with a perfect 25/25 to finish with a score of 121. He eventually qualified fourth after coming second in a four-way shoot-off to decide the final qualification positions.
Eight shooters qualified for the two ranking rounds in the 154-strong field. For the seventh and eight places, there was a 11-way shoot-off.
Bhowneesh lined up with American Derrick Mein, the world number three, Briton Aaron Heading and Qatari R H Al-Althba in the second ranking round match. Derrick Mein had finished second, while Al-Athba and Heading were sixth and eighth in qualification respectively.
Heading was the first to bow out, hitting 11 targets of the first 15. The American Mein was ahead with a clean 15 strikes while Bhowneesh was second with 14 hits. Al-Athba of Qatar had 12 hits to his name at that stage. With the quota place on the line, the Indian shot out of his skin and hit a straight 10-targets after that to top the round and seal the quota.
Mein missed his last three targets to get into a shoot-off with Al-Athba, which he won on the first shoot-off shot to make it through.
They were joined in the final by Britain’s Nathan Hales and Chinese Taipei’s Kun Pi-Yang who had topped the qualification round with a score of 123. Hales won the first ranking round while Yang came in second.
The Indian started brilliantly in the final as well but missed a crucial bird in the last five-shot series to miss a medal. American Mein won gold with 33 hits, while Hales won silver with 31. Yang bowed out at the 25-shot stage with 23 hits. All three medallists also picked up the other three quota places for their nations.
Among the other Indians, the experienced Prithviraj Tondaiman narrowly missed making at least the shoot-offs to make it to the ranking round, shooting 119 to finish 22nd eventually. The final two scores to make it to the ranking rounds was 120. Vivaan Kapoor was further back in 119th position with a score of 107.
India did not make much headway in the Women’s Trap with Neeru finishing 29th with a score of 111, Shreyasi Singh 35th with 110 and Manisha Keer finished 61st overall with 102 hits to her name, after the five 25-shot rounds in qualification.
Carole Cormenier of France won gold in the event. France, Spain Slovakia and Australia picked up the Paris Olympics quotas. India currently is placed joint fourth on the medal tally with one gold medal to their name.