It has been an incredible season for the victorious shooting brothers, Abdel-Aziz and Azmi Mehelba of Egypt, who wrapped up the season with glory by each winning a medal in the final of the one-week Shooting World Cup which took place from 18 to 26 November in Qatar. The historic floodlit trap competition at the Doha World Cup Final saw Abdel-Aziz Mehelba add gold to his brother’s skeet silver in a monumental shoot-out.
The day started with the men’s skeet final with Dane Emil Petersen winning. The final witnessed one of the largest – and longest – dams in the history of the International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF) before Petersen beat Azmi Mehelba 26-25.
While Petersen, 25, had started invincibly, scoring 20 out of 20 and maintaining his lead with 29 out of 30, Mehelba, the world champion in 2022 and bronze medalist at the 2023 World Cup, took back the initiative to reach 10 last shots programmed with two targets ahead of his Danish rival.
The official time of the competition finished in a tie but officials extended the time since the Dane and the Egyptian had everything, simply refusing to give in to the other. They continued without fail. After a very long day, Azmi Mehelba missed a dish to win the silver medal, leaving the gold to his opponent. The bronze went to Italian Elia Sdruccioli.
Azmi’s frustration was to some extent appeased by the subsequent victory of his brother, Abdel-Aziz, in the men’s trap final which was just as dramatic but much shorter – another historical element of this extraordinary day.
But an early miss by the 37-year-old Italian Daniele Resca, world champion in 2017, enabled his Egyptian opponent to draw level at 41-41.
Abdel-Aziz remained resolute during the five final shots, hitting the target with each one to leave Resca needing a hit with his last attempt to stay level. Once the British Nathan Hales finished in bronze, Mehelba and Resca proceeded to the last sequence, and Mehelba landed gold with a 46-45 victory.
According to the ISSF, the Italian’s head soon dropped in disappointment. No pink powder was to be seen from his final effort in the floodlit arena, and Mehelba was suddenly surrounded by jubilant fellow countrymen after a 46-45 win.
“What makes this medal special for me is – I don’t know if it happened before in the history of the World Cup Final – that I have won a gold on the same day my brother has won a silver,” Mehelba told ISSF TV.
“So, I wanted to win this medal not only for myself but for both of us in the World Cup Final because I think it’s history.
“It was a very hard final. Until the last target you didn’t know who was going to win – it was amazing.
“In the end it is a game of who stays over the last three targets – they are the most important.
“Actually, I was not counting accurately at the end. I knew I had a chance if I hit the last target I would win or get a shoot-off. I didn’t know exactly how it stood, but I knew when I heard people celebrating!
I started on the last target a little bit late, so when I hit it, I was happy because I thought, ‘this is the target of the competition.’”
* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly