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    Shooting stars shine bright at 60 in year gone by

    By indianshooting.com
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    It was an eventful year for world shooting with blue-riband competitions like the World Championship, Asian Games and World Cup Final taking centrestage and regaling followers with superlative performances by elite athletes.

    These were tales of grit and patience, and what better way to usher in the New Year than by replaying some of the narrations.

    The list is long and all those who stepped up in 2023 are achievers, but indianshooting.com highlights three men who are an inspiration given where they are in life.

    Rajmond Debevec, Abdullah Al-Rashidi and Leonel Martinez were in the news for their unflinching quest for glory at an age where most elite athletes are either retired or pursuing their next choice as mentors and coaches.

    Not for this trio though.

    Debevec became a world champion at 55 at the 2018 Changwon World Championship, but his thirst for more kept him motivated for the Baku World Championship in August.

    The 60-year-old Slovenian shot a perfect 600 in 300m rifle prone on way to another gold. The enormity of the feat can be gauged from the average age of his competitors in the final. Finland’s silver medallist Aleksi Leppa was 28, and bronze medallist Timothy Sherry (USA) 29.

    Of course, Debevec’s pedigree had a role to play as a six-time Olympian with gold at 2000 Sydney and bronze medallist at 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.

    Abdullah Al-Rashidi’s feat at the Asian Games in September had a nice ring to it — a perfect 60 at 60 in the skeet final to storm the podium with gold.

    Coming into Hangzhou, the supremely fit 60-year-old Kuwaiti, who has been competing since 1989, had little to prove after two Olympic medals, three Asian Games and three World Championship gold.

    Like Debevec, Al-Rashidi proved that age is a number in the mind as he wore down India’s Anant Jeet Singh Naruka in the gold-medal match with a display of immaculate technique and unwavering concentration in what was experience prevailing over youth.

    The perfect 60 in the final has whetted Al-Rashidi’s desire to raise the bar further at the 2024 Olympics, and that will be to convert the bronze from the London and Rio Games to gold in Paris.

    Unlike Debevec and Al-Rashidi, Leonel Martinez’s run in world shooting has been about keeping heart.

    The 60-year-old Venezuelan acquired the tag of an Olympian early in the career, featuring at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, just three years after he started competing in trap, but the podium eluded him.

    From then till the Pan American Games in October, it was a prolonged run in the wilderness as the towering athlete was a part of numerous Pan American Games, Continental American Championships, World Championships and World Cups, but that first international medal stayed out of grasp.

    Martinez wrote his destiny on October 31 by whipping up a double achievement in Santiago, Chile. The 42-year-old wait for that elusive medal ended with silver, and the ensuing Olympic quota for the Paris Games made the moment sweeter.

    Martinez is in an exclusive league. When he takes aim in the trap range in Paris, he will enter the history books as the second athlete behind Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu with a wait for a second Olympic appearance that lasted 40 years or more.