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India’s finest shotgun shooter

ISP Delhi Bureau 

Winning the first-ever gold medal for India in the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in Men’s Skeet event, Mairaj Ahmad Khan has created not just history but has also set an inspiring lesson for those who give up on their struggle easily. 

Mairaj had almost given up on his preparation for the ISSP World Cup and the Paris Olympics 2024. He was emotionally down after his father Ilyas Ahmed’s death during the Corona wave. He was also a state-level trap shooter who introduced his son to the game. 

With financial strain due to heavy expenses on training,  he has no plans to pursue his shooting skills further. Affording an international-level coach was another impossible task for him. An industrialist friend came to his rescue and he regained his spirits to prepare for the championships. 

Troubles ahead of big events have not been new to Mairaj. He missed his participation in the 2012 Olympics because a case was registered against him just before the event. He made his international debut during the ISSF World Cup at Lonato, Italy in the year 2003. He already has an Olympic silver to his credit from Rio 2016.

Hailing from Khurja in Uttar Pradesh, Mairaj’s Gold in the World Cup in Changwon, South Korea shall be an inspiration to many. The 46-year-old shooter was out of practice in the last two years and had no support from the sports authorities as well. But a compelling financial crisis could not buckle him down to give up. He reached out for help and he was successful. 

Mairaj started training with international coach Riccardo Filipelli in India first and then in Italy. When he reached South Korea, he was determined to win. And he did. 

In the 40-shot final this week in Korea, Mairaj shot 37 to finish ahead of Korea’s Minsu Kim (36) and Britain’s Ben Llewellin (26), who won the silver and bronze respectively. In the qualifying round, Mairaj Ahmad Khan shot 119 from 125 over two days of the men’s skeet shooting event. He then came through a five-way shoot-off, which included two-time Olympic medallist Abdullah Al Rashidi of Kuwait. Mairaj Ahmad Khan was up against Germany’s Sven Korte, Minki Cho of South Korea and Nicolas Vasiliou of Cyprus in the ranking round for another round of 30 targets.

Mairaj has participated in the Rio and the Tokyo Olympics and is now eyeing a Gold in Paris. He wants to win the Olympic glory for the country. After his ISSF win, talking to the media from Korea, Mairaj called upon corporates in India to support Shooting sports as it was an expensive game and a lot of talent in India went to waste due to lack of support.

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