Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 22 News List

India seeks Beijing wildcard for Sikh shooting champion


India were yesterday desperately seeking an Olympic wildcard for double-trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi a day after his stunning World Cup victory in Belgrade.

Sodhi, 28, upset a top class field on Sunday to win the event with a world record-equaling final score of 194 out of 200 set by Italian Daniele Di Spigno at the 1999 world championships.

The bearded Sikh, coached by Olympic gold medalist Mark Russell of Australia, matched the previous qualification record held jointly by Richard Faulds of Britain and Michael Diamond of Australia.

Both Faulds and Diamond are the top medal contenders in Beijing along with Di Spigno.

Sodhi, ranked 23rd in the world, did not make the nine-member Indian team as the double-trap berth went to Athens Olympics silver medalist Rajyavardhan Rathore.

Rathore finished 24th in the qualification rounds at Belgrade with a score of 134.

Senior Indian Olympic official Randhir Singh said he hoped the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) would grant Sodhi a wildcard for Beijing.

“It’s a magnificent effort and I hope the ISSF will recognise it by ensuring Sodhi makes it to Beijing,” Singh said. “A World Cup winner certainly deserves to be at the Olympics.”

Sodhi, whose training and competition schedule is sponsored by steel baron Lakshmi Mittal’s US$10 million trust for Indian sports, said he was delighted at winning the title.

“It’s a good feeling to emerge on top and I hope it will get me to the Olympics,” Sodhi told the Indian media from Belgrade. “But even if I don’t go to Beijing, I hope RVS [Rathore] wins the competition because he is my senior.”

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