The Slovakian shooter beat the home champion Pellielo at the ISSF Shotgun World Championship in Lonato, Italy, in a shoot-off after the Gold medal match. Varga had gained the title one year ago at the 2014 ISSF World Championship in Granada, Spain.
The reigning Trap Men world champion Erik Varga of Slovakia (39), defended his title at the ISSF Shotgun World Championship in Lonato, today, winning his second championship back to back.
The 39-year old shooter beat the home champion, Italy's Giovanni Pellielo (45) in a spine-chilling shoot-off at the end of the Gold medal match by 2 to 1 hits, winning a tough match on the layouts of one of the most challenging shooting ranges of the world.
Varga had qualified with 120 hits, and then scored 12 clays in the semi-final, passing through a three-way shoot-off against Belgium's Mottet and Spain's Fernandez to access the Gold medal match. There, he met the four-time world champion Pellielo, who had qualified with 120 hits and 13 hits in the semi-final.
The two-athletes shot neck and neck right to the end of the Gold medal match. Pellielo had a one-target advantage when he missed his very last clay, ending up in the shoot-off for Gold, eventually won by Varga.
“I am very happy, I can't believe I won my second world title in a row.” said the Slovakian shooter. “Lonato is a difficult range, I have been shooting here for years now, and today's qualification score of 120 hits is my personal best on this venue.”
“I was really nervous going into the Gold medal match.,” added today's winner. “ Giovanni Pellielo is one of the best trap shooters of the world, and I knew it was going to be difficult.”
“Honestly, I did not think about the scores. I shot one target after the other, right to the end.”
“The Olympic Games are in my sights,” continued Varga, “ but I won't make any statement about that. I have a lot of experience, and in these years I've learned that everything can happen in this sport.”
Pellielo, followed by thousands of supporters here on his home turf, took the third world championship silver medal of his career.
“I had troubles with the timing.” Pellielo said. “I am working with my coach Albano Pera on a new routine to cope with the new rules, that introduced a timer.”
“I am not disappointed, just a little deluded because the referee was starting the timer a little bit too early, in my opinion.”
“Anyway, I am happy it's my ninth world championship medal, and I am OK with that.”
“The crowd was unbelievable, I think they are the real success of this competition, it's not east to find such a warm audience. Italy proved once again that it loves shotgun shooting,” concluded Pellielo.
The Italian shooter is widely recognized as one of the best trap shooters of all times. His trophies showcase include seven World Cup Final titles, 10 Wolrd Cup stages Gold medals as well as 4 European tittles. At Olympic level, Pellielo collected a Bronze in Sydney 2000, and then two Silvers in a row in Athens and Beijing. Rio 2016 could turn into his last chance to win an Olympic title, the only award left to achieve.
With an odd-defying score of 13 hits to 11, Belgium's first-time finalist Maxime Mottet beat the 2010 World Champion Alberto Fernandez of Spain in the Bronze medal match by 13 to 11 hits, after qualifying with 120 targets. By making it to the final, Mottet also secured an Olympic quota place for his country.
The 24-year old Belgian athlete, ranked 57th in the world, was definitely not in the list of the favourites: at last year's Wolrd Championship in Granada he had placed in 88th.
“I didn’t expect such a result, but I did really great at the last World Cup stage in Gabala, where I shot 122 targets in the qualifications, so I had good feelings,” Mottet said. “I started the qualification with strong scores here in Lonato, marking two 25s in a row, but then i dropped some targets and I realized that I was in the final only when I watched the scoreboard.”
“By making it into the final, I was guaranteed an Olympic quota. Knowing that I didn't have to shoot for the quota spot in the final, I obviously was more relaxed, and I really enjoyed it. It has been a really nice experience.”
Mottet had never placed better than 29th, at world level competitions. Taking up a new shotgun last December turned into a game-changer decision. “With my old gun I never shot over 120 clays. Then I picked a Krieghoff shotgun at the end of the last season, and in the last six months I have shot more 25-out-of-25 than in the previous six years. I quickly adapted my style to the new gun, I think it fits better on me.”
San Marino's Stefano Selva (40), took fifth place with 11 hits in the semi-final, after qualifying for the match with 121 hits. Kuwait's 2002 World Champion Khaled Almudhaf (37) followed him in sixth, with a semi-final score of 10 clays, and a qualification score of 121, claiming the second Rio 2016 quota up for grab.
The Russian Federation (Alexey Alipov, Maksim Smykjov, Denis Zotov) won the teams' gold with an overall score of 356 targets. Pellielo's Italy followed in second place with 354 hits scored by the same Pellielo and his teammates Massimo Fabbrizi and Valerio Grazini. Two targets behind them, with a combined scored of 352 clays, San Marino took the teams' bronze thanks to Stefano Selva, Gian Marco Berti and Manuel Mancini.
The 2015 ISSF Shotgun World Championship, held in Lonato from the 10th through the 18th of September, sees over 800 athletes coming from 92 countries competing in the 5 Olympic shotgun events, aiming at 10 Rio 2016 quota places.
The event will continue this afternoon with the junior men's Trap final, at 18.15 (GMT+2).
Tomorrow, women's and junior women's Skeet finals will be held at 17:30 and 18:30, respectively. Finals will be broadcasted live on www.issf-sports.org and on the Eurovision network.