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MSSF team face Italian challenge

Young Nathan Lee Xuereb taking aim during last year’s Grand Prix in Bidnija.

Young Nathan Lee Xuereb taking aim during last year’s Grand Prix in Bidnija.

Fourteen shooters from Malta and Italy will challenge each other in the fifth Malta International Double Trap Grand Prix which is being held at the Bidnija ranges on Sunday.

William Chetcuti and Nathan Lee Xuereb will lead the local charge in the shoot as the Malta Shooting Sport Federation (MSSF) will field a team of six competitors.

The other eight will be filled by Italian national team members who will be here tomorrow.

The visiting party includes 2013 Grand Prix winner Emanuele Bernasconi.

Last year, he completed a double at Bidnija by winning both Trap and Double Trap competitions. Daniele Di Spigno, the 2008 Olympics silver medallist, is also in the Italian team.

The Grand Prix gets under way with the first of five qualifying rounds with the top six contesting the final, starting at 2pm.

Saviour Portelli, back as president of the MSSF following the departure Emanuel Cascun, told reporters yesterday that the competition will be a perfect warm-up ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, next month.

“The Double Trap GP is a good platform for our shooters to step up their preparations for the Commonwealths,” he said.

“A high-level entry is crucial for our shooters to have an ideal build-up ahead of such an important event. Surely, the presence of the Italian team will provide a fitting setting for our competition.”

The MSSF had tried to lure more shooters of certain repute to the Grand Prix but a packed international schedule thwarted their plans.

“Unfortunately, this year we were unable to attract more shooters from abroad,” Portelli lamented.

“The Grand Prix came in between two important shoots, the World Cup in Munich which was held this week and the European Championships scheduled for next week in Hungary. So, it was always going to be difficult to convince more shooters to add the trip to Malta to their programme.”

In Munich, the MSSF fielded a team in both trap and double trap competitions.

Brian Galea achieved the best result when he compiled an impressive score of 121 (24-25-24-24-24) from 125 clays in the Trap shoot. However, despite his bold effort, he still failed to make the cut for the final.

Xuereb was hampered by a poor score in the third round of the double trap competition and finished a modest 33rd with a score of 136 (28-28-23-28-29).

Malta will also be represented in the Euro Championships.

Galea will be joined by Frans Pace, Frank Scorfna and Nicky Carabott in Trap. Xuereb will again contest the double trap shoot and Bobitar Dimitrov in skeet.

“The federation is doing everything in its power to improve the level of our shooters,” Portelli said.

“We engaged an Ukrainian coach, Eduard Tysenjenko. He is assisting us with the preparation of our shooters while the MOC has also provided us with a sports psychologist.”

Present for the launching yesterday was Chris Agius, the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport.

He said government is committed in keeping its promise to help the MSSF identify a new site for a more modern shooting range.

“We are planning to intensify talks with the federation in the coming weeks as we are determined to help them achieve their dream of having a state-of-the-art range that could host high-level events such as World Cup and European Championship shoots,” Agius said.

“Shooting has provided us with a lot of satisfactions so we are committed to help this sport develop and continue to flourish.”

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