Bhowneesh Mendiratta earned India’s first Paris 2024 Olympic Games quota spot, finishing fourth in men’s trap event at the International Shooting Sport Federation’s Shotgun World Championship in Osijek, Croatia.
With four quota spots up for grabs in the event, the 23-year-old from Faridabad made his way to the final medal match of four shooters to earn a confirmed spot in Paris Olympics for the Indian contingent. He shot a superb 24/25 in the ranking match to get to the final stage.
Unfortunately, a World Championship medal proved elusive as he finished fourth in the medal round.
After concluding day two of their competition, India’s Prithviraj Tondaiman and Bhowneesh Mendiratta, stood with a fighting chance to qualify for the final rounds in the men’s event. Both shot identical scores of 96 after four rounds of qualification ended on Tuesday. But only the latter made it to the ranking rounds.
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.
No one qualified for the ranking rounds in women’s trap.
India, led by Avani Lekhara, had also earned quota spots for Paris 2024 Paralympics in shooting earlier in the year.
A total of 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 Qatar’s 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 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. America’s 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 medalists also picked up the other three quota places for their nations.
It was an excellent effort from the youngster, whose only senior medal at the world stage before this was a Team silver at the Changwon World Cup earlier in the year.
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 quotas.
(With NRAI inputs)