Former world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu clinched trap gold medal in the ISSF Shotgun World Cup by scoring 121 in the qualification, followed by 13 in the finals, being held in Tucson, US on Friday.
Slipped to No. 16 in the world ranking for his inconsistent run over last two years, the 37-year-old Manavjit was up against two-time Olympic gold medallist from Australia, Michael Diamond, who had won the trap medals twice in a row in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.
Sandhu started Friday with a score of 72 which he shot on Thursday. With his consistent performance, he shot 25 and 24 in the remaining two rounds and was ranked third in the qualifying round. His series scores were 24, 25, 23, 25 and 24 in the qualifier.
Sandhu scored 14 out of 15 targets in the semifinals. The Indian sharpshooter had last won at the World Cup stage four years ago. Russian Olympic trap shooter Alexey Alipov finished third in the championship with a score of 121 and 12. Ireland's Derek Burnett, who topped the scoring in the qualifications with 123, failed to replicate his form in the semifinals where six shooters competed.
Sandhu last won this tournament back in 2006 with a score of 143 out of 150 at Zagreb, apart from winning the gold at the 2010 World Cup in Mexico. He was bestowed with India's highest sports award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, in 2006-07.
The Indian has also won gold medals at the 2012 Asian Championships and finished second at the Asian Shotgun Championships in Patiala.
Diamond, a five-time gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games too, finished with a score of 119 and nine in the qualifications and finals, respectively.
Manavjit failed to enter the final of the men's trap event during the 2012 London Olympics after finishing 16th in the qualification round. But during the last one month, he was showing glimpses of his old form when he clinched the Patiala Cup for the overall gross score in trap, double trap and skeet, at the Indian Shotgun Open.
With Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games lined up in the season ahead, this victory could well do wonders for India's one of the finest shooter.
Sandhu is now aiming for a quota place for the 2016 Rio Olympics as a total of 64 quotas will be up for grabs at the World Championships, scheduled to be held later this year in Grenada, Spain.
"We had some of the world's best shooters competing today. Winning the match against Michael Diamond has been definitely challenging but at the end you have to hit your own target, and the final score is what it is," Sandhusaid after his victory.
"I have prepared for this first World Cup throughout the winter season. We had several championships and trials in India in the last months. I never stopped shooting," added the shooter.
In the women's section, Shreyasi Singh stood sixth as she could only shoot 8 in the finals of trap. Her qualification score was 66/75. The double trap event will be conducted April 13-14 where India's Ronjan Sodhi, Modh Asab and Ankur Mittal will be participating.
This is the first of the four World Cups of shotgun events held in a year.