Egyptian skeet shooter Azmy Mehelba will be hoping third time's a charm when he competes at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The 30-year-old is one of Egypt's hottest prospects for a medal at the summer Games this time around after twice failing to live up to expectations in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Mehelba qualified for Tokyo through the ISSF World Cup in Lathi, Finland in August 2019. He won the bronze medal after scoring 121 points out of 125 in the men's skeet event.
"I have a big opportunity to win an Olympic medal. I'm now on par with the world champions. I already competed against the world's finest at the World Championships and World Cups. I beat them several times," he told Ahram Online.
He recently defeated 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gabriele Rossetti of Italy and 2008 and 2012 gold medalist Vincent Hancock of the US.
"The best and biggest rivals for Egypt are Italian and American shooters," he commented.
Mehelba was tipped for success at the Rio Games in 2016, given that he was ranked second by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). However, he finished 11th with a score of 120/125.
"At the time, I was the first Arab and African shooter who qualified for Rio 2016," he said with a grin.
In his debut Olympic appearance in 2012, he finished 36th with a score of 108/125. He made amends two years later by giving Egypt its first ever world shooting medal after winning bronze at the ISSF World Championship in Spain.
Mehelba is aiming big in Tokyo after some recent achievements, having won the gold medal at the ISSF World Cup Shotgun in Italy earlier this year.
In 2020, he clinched the bronze medal at the World Cup in Nicosia, silver at the Arab Shooting Championship in Egypt and bronze at another regional competition in Morocco, setting an Arab record in the process with a score of 124 out of 125.
Mehelba also won gold and bronze medals at the International Morocco Grand prix in Rabat.
He is approaching the Tokyo Games second in the world ranking with 3,834 points, having been in the top ten since 2014.
Azmi belongs to a family of shooters, with his father and brother practicing the same sport. The brother, Abdel-Aziz Mehelba, took part in the 2016 Rio Games.
"My father has supported me and my brother since we were kids. He paid and covered all the expenses of our trips abroad to train under professional coaches," Mehelba said.
Mehelba began his career in 2002, joining the Egyptian national team two years later. He was only 15 years when he took part in his first international championship.
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