Chetcuti claims historic gold
Beats Italian Barilla by one point in tight Double Trap duel in Mersin
William Chetcuti ensured that the Maltese flag fluttered proudly in Turkey yesterday after winning the gold medal in Double Trap at the Mediterranean Games.
Regarded as the country’s best hope of success, Chetcuti did justice to his lofty billing yesterday as he became the first Maltese to capture a gold medal at the quadrennial Mediterranean Games.
The Bidnija prodigy held his nerve in the decisive match to see off the strong challenge of Italian Antonino Barilla, 29 to 28, at the Erdemli Shooting Range in Mersin.
“This must rank among the most prestigious honours of my career,” Chetcuti told Times of Malta.
“It is my first gold medal in the Mediterranean Games and also Malta’s first. Winning a World Cup shoot (China 2011) remains my biggest achievement to date but this medal is up there with the best.”
Barilla had been the leading shooter going into the final with a total of 144 points, four ahead of compatriot Davide Gasparini.
The 28-year-old Chetcuti put himself in contention for a medal after ending the qualifying round with 139 points following scores of 29, 26, 28, 29 and 27.
Morocco’s Mohamed Rammah also hit 139 clays with Libya’s Elias Kaadi and home shooter Yavuz Ilnam tying up the final two top-six slots with 134 points.
Under the new ISSF rules, the top six start from scratch in the semi-final and this format clearly benefited Chetcuti.
After booking his place in the title match with a leading score of 28 out of 30 clays, Chetcuti secured the top prize after eclipsing Barilla by just one point in a nerve-racking duel.
Ilnam claimed the final place on the podium after beating Gasparini 29-26 in the bronze medal match.
Chetcuti, who now owns a full set of Med. Games medals after win-ning bronze in Almeria in 2005 and silver in Pescara four years later, acknowledged that the new ISSF rules had worked in his favour.
“I qualified for the semi-final in third place but under the new rules, the top six shooters start from zero in the decisive matches,” Chetcuti, who was presented with his medal by MOC president Julian Pace Bonello, said.
“I managed to progress to the final and secured the gold medal after beating Barilla 29-28.
“The two Italians (Barilla and Gasparini) were strong and there was also a Turkish guy (Ilnam) who did well in the competition.”
A gold medal at the Mediterranean Games will have gone some way towards easing Chetcuti’s disap-pointment at missing the Luxembourg GSSE after Double Trap shooting was omitted from the programme.
“To be honest, not going to the GSSE was somewhat upsetting but, on the other hand, it may have been a blessing in disguise because I felt fresher here,” Chetcuti said.
“I would like to thank the Maltese Olympic Committee for their support in funding my partici-pation in overseas events like World Cup shoots.
“I’m also grateful to my wife, my family and coach Jimmy Bugeja for their unstinting backing as well as the Armed Forces of Malta as they allow me to keep practising my sport on a full-time basis.
“Without this kind of support, it’s impossible to attain such standards.”
Meanwhile, Nathan Lee Xuereb, Malta’s other competitor in Double Trap, failed to advance to the semi-final after finishing eighth with 123 points.
In a statement, the Malta Shoot-ing Sport Federation said it was proud that Chetcuti had delivered the country’s first gold medal at the prestigious Mediterranean Games.
Top six in double trap
1. W. Chetcuti (Malta) 139, 28, 29; 2. A. Barilla (Italy) 144, 27, 28; 3. Y. Ilnam (Turkey) 134, 26 SO+4, 29; 4. D. Gasparini (Italy) 140, SO+4, 26; 5. M. Rammah (Morocco) 139, 26 SO+2; 6. E. Kaadi (Libya) 134, 26 SO+2.