PH trap shooter reaches Olympic quota in Kuwait tilt, but…
Trap shooter Hagen Alexander Topacio could have been the second Olympic qualifier for the Philippines if not for a gaffe by the organizers of the Asian Shooting Championship held in Kuwait.
The 26-year-old Olympic Solidarity Movement scholar, who brought home the silver medal from the tournament held on Nov. 9, easily hurdled the minimum qualifying score for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
Topacio’s 122 points in the elimination round already booked him a ticket to Rio as he surpassed the qualifying grade of 112, but the International Olympic Committee, through the International Shooting Sport Federation, pulled its recognition of the tournament at the last minute.
“That was my best performance and I felt bad that I wasn’t able to get that Olympic slot,’’ said Topacio, bronze medalist in the Singapore Southeast Asian Games early this year.
According to Topacio’s coach Ed Fernandez and shooting official Jimmy Chua, Kuwaiti organizers refused to grant the visa of an Israeli participant in the continental meet, prompting the IOC to pull out its sanction.
“It wasn’t the fault of Hagen. We will definitely appeal to the IOC through the Philippine Olympic Committee,’’ said Chua.
Topacio missed just three birds in the elimination round to assemble 122 out of the perfect 125 points, breaking the national record of Beijing Olympian Eric Ang, who shot 119 in the 2000 Asian Clay Shooting Championships in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Topacio hit all 15 targets in the semifinals that automatically qualified him to the gold-medal round where he missed seven shots to settle for the silver.
It was the highest score by a Filipino in the trap after Ang fired 121 and placed seventh in the 2008 ISSF World Cup in Munich, Germany.
Young Sik of South Korea was 12 of 15 in the finals to snatch the gold while the bronze went to Talal Alrashidi of Kuwait.
At least 30 of the best shooters in the continent participated in the meet with Olympic medalists from China, Kuwait and South Korea looking to qualify in the Rio Summer Games.
So far, only Filipino-American hurdler Eric Cray has made it to Rio de Janeiro after meeting the Olympic standard in a meet in Cayman Islands last May.
Topacio said another continental qualifier is in the works early next year, his last shot at an Olympic seat.
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