Lonato (Italy): Veteran skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmad Khan celebrated the biggest day of his 12-year career when he clinched a Rio Olympics quota place for India at the ongoing ISSF Shotgun World Championship here on Thursday.
Mairaj started the second day of the men's skeet competition in ninth position with a score of 74 after the first three rounds of qualification. After two more qualifications on Thursday, he entered the final in sixth position with a total score of 122 out of a maximum possible 125.
Given that all the first five shooters in qualification had already booked their Rio berths, Mairaj secured one of the two available quota places. The other seat went to Germany's Ralf Buchheim who ended his qualification round in eighth position with an identical score of 122.
This is India's first quota place for the 2016 Olympics in the shotgun disciplines.
The 40-year-old Noida based Mairaj, who hails from Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh, had previously won gold in the men's Team Skeet event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The other quota winners from India's shooting squad thus far are former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, Olympic bronze medalist Gagan Narang, pistol aces Jitu Rai and Gurpreet Singh, Prakash Nanjappa, Chain Singh and Apurvi Chandela.
India's next and last chance to secure Olympic quota places will come up at the Asian Shooting Championships in November, which are slated to be held in Kuwait city.
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