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Indian skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmad Khan books Rio Olympics slot

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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1.66K   //    17 Sep 2015, 20:14 IST
Mairaj finished sixth at the ongoing ISSF Shotgun World Championship

Ever since Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s Olympic silver medal in 2004, shooting has consistently made India proud at the international stage. However, skeet is one of the lesser known shooting disciplines within the Indian sporting landscape. Veteran shooter Mairaj Ahmad Khan went a long way in proving that notion wrong today, by qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. This will be the 40-year old’s first Olympcs as he secures India’s first qualification spot from the shotgun realm. 

Mairaj began the second day of the Men’s skeet position in the ninth spot, with a score of 74 points, after the first three rounds of qualifying. The final two rounds proved to be pivotal for the Noida-based shooter, who notched up a score 122 out of a possible 125 point to take the sixth and final spot for Rio. As all the top five shooters had already qualified for Rio, Mairaj automatically secured an automatic slot. The other spot went to Germany’s Ralf Buchheim, who finished with an identical score of 122. 

Mairaj has tasted success on the international stage previously. He won the Men’s team skeet event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, along with Baba PS Bedi in New Delhi. The ace marksman from the Buland-Shahr district in Uttar Pradesh was also involved in a hunting controversy, early last year. 

The other Indians to have booked a spot in Rio so far are 2008 Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, 2012 bronze medallist Gagan Narang, from the pistol section, Jitu Rai and Gurpreet Singh, Prakash Nanjappa and Chain Singh. India’s top women’s shooter Apurvi Chandela has also comfortably made it through to the 2016 edition. 

The Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait to be held in November, will be the last chance for Indian shooters to make it through to the Olympics.  

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