Mairaj Ahmad Khan created history by winning India’s first ever skeet medal at an ISSF World Cup. He won the silver medal in men’s skeet on the final day of the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Rio De Janerio on Sunday.
The 40-year-old Rio-Olympics bound shooter shot the second highest qualification score of 122 (24,24,24,25,25). In the finals he shot 14 and lost out to Marcus Svensson of Sweden in the Gold medal match in a shoot off after the latter was also tied at 14.
In the tie-breaking shoot-off, Mairaj missed on his very first double and settled for the silver medal.
After competing in 26 ISSF World Cups so far it was Mairaj’s first ever finals at an ISSF World Cup and he made the most of it with a podium finish.
Mairaj Ahmad Khan displays his silver medal
Speaking to indianshooting.com Mairaj said, “For the shoot-off I had to borrow ammunition from a Greek friend. The recoil and velocity of the ammunition was very different from the one I use. Nevertheless it’s a good start for the games on the games venue. A medal always gives you self belief that you can do it”.
Mairaj, who hails from the ‘Ceramic City’ of Khurja in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh, had previously won the Olympic quota after finishing 7th at the ISSF Shotgun World Championship, held at Lonato, Italy in September last year.
Incidentally, the Noida based shooter had shot the same qualification score of 122 at the World Championship to became the first Indian to qualify in skeet at the Olympics.
This medal has given enough boost to Mairaj a few months before Olympics. He will now be looking forward to repeat his performance at the same venue during the Rio games.
“My performance at the World Championship was more special as I had won an Olympic quota but today’s medal is also important as it’s my first ISSF World Cup medal and it gives a lot of confidence for the upcoming Rio Olympics”.
Talking about today’s match strategy, Mairaj said, “I told myself to focus only on one target at a time. Going target by target I shot two perfect rounds of 25 each which no one else did today. To hit at one target is much easier than trying to shoot a perfect round of 25”.
Sheeraz Sheikh finished 18th with a score of 118 (25,22,24,23,24) while another Indian Man Singh finished 49th with a score of 111 (22,25,22,22,20).
Tammaro Cassandro of Italy who shot the highest qualification score of 123 took the bronze.