RAAJIV TRIPATHI DOHA QATAR's Nasser bin Saleh al Attiyah won the individual gold for the third time and equalled the world record in the Skeet event of the Asian S h o o t i n g Championship. At the Losail Shooting Range on Tuesday, he shot 150 targets without missing a single one, becoming the first Asian to do so! By achieving the feat he has also won a ticket to his fifth Olympic Games.
"I'm extremely proud to ensure my place in the Olympic Games with the world record. It is incredible feelingC*.I feel on top of the world now," commented Attiyah.
In shooting history, only four others have had this magical score in the finals. Norwegian Tore Brovold, also the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist, performed this feat (125 + 25) twice in the European Championships (2008, 2009).
Beijing Olympics gold winner Vincent Hancock of the US shot 150 in the 2007 Lonato World Cup. Jan Sychra of Czech Republic tied the finals world record (FWR) last year in the Concepcion World Cup in Chile.
"I couldn't have asked for more today," said Attiyah with a broad smile. "I produced a world-record equalling performance.
I got my entry to the London Olympics, which is fifth for me. I won the first Asian championship gold and I am also a part of the gold-winning teamC*what else I could have wished as a shooter today. Attiyah, who has been twice team champion in the Asian Games, won the title twice before and finished runner-up twice as well. In terms of scores, 147 had been his best.
The score had fetched him the fourth place in 2004 Athens Olympics and a silver medal in the Lonato World Cup in 2001.
Former three-time world champion and five-time Asian winner Abdullah al Rashidi of Kuwait, who also hit 25 out of 25 in the finals, earned the silver with 147. Saeed al Maktoum, the son of former Dubai ruler, was third with a tally of 146. He had also hit all the targets in the finals.
It was, however, Attiyah's day in his own backyard. It was not easy for him, especially after the heart-break from his botched Dakar Rally title defence last week and seeing the quality of the opposition today.
Continuing in the same rich vein as Monday, Attiyah cranked up pressure on his main rivals like Rashidi, who has been world champion thrice, and Maktoum, who had recently won the Arab Games title last month and claimed the 2011 ISSF World Cup Finals in Al Ain.
Attiyah was the only one to break all 125 targets during the two qualification rounds.
And perhaps, this fact was certainly playing in the minds of Rashidi (122) and Maktoum (121). The Qatari, who has also been seven times FIA Middle East Rally Championship winner, chose to be the last shooter among the six finalists.
During the last three shots, the time seemed to have stopped. A large crowd, which had especially come down to the range to see Attiyah, held its breath. And so did Attiyah.
With steady steps, he reached the shooting area and confidently gunned down the disk from left. Now only one more target was left between him and the world record. Then he turned to his right and as the machine hurled the disk, he immediately pulled the trigger and shattered it in midflight, triggering a roar of applause -- the biggest one must have heard at the range.
He immediately turned around, raised his arms in jubilation, took off his glasses and kissed the record-making gun. Rashidi was the first one to congratulate and a series of hugs, kisses and customary congratulations by fellow competitors and friends followed.
He said that God had been with him all this while when he decided to quit the rally and pursue his shooting dream."God opens another window after he closes one. I feel this is what has happened with me. When my ailing car finally broke down during the Dakar Rally after about 7,000 kms, I was a bit tentative about what to do.
"Then I took the bold decision to quit and told my codriver Lucas (Cruz) about it. I contacted the shooting team and all the arrangements for my return were done.
Everything seemed to be moving in some sort of predestined direction," said Attiyah.
"I just followed His directions and began preparing for the shooting competition. I felt very rusty in the beginning.
But with physical rehabilitation provided by the Aspire team and the shooting federation, I managed to get back into shape," he said.
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