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Watch: Eleonor Bezzina prevails in thrilling final to strike gold in 10m Air Pistol

Eleonor Bezzina inscribed her name among the legends of the GSSE competition when the veteran target shooter retained her title in the 10m Air Pistol competition in a thrilling final at the Kirkop Sports Hall.

For Bezzina this was her third title at the GSSE and second in a row after the veteran shooter had reclaimed the gold medal in Montenegro four years ago.

It was a thrilling final that saw Bezzina recover from a slow start and embark on an exciting chase of Monaco’s shooter Megali Pierre-Forest who led the way for almost all of the final.

In the closing stages, it looked as though Bezzina would seize the advantage when a poor shot from the Monegasque gave the Maltese two-point cushion lead.

However, in the final shot, Pierre-Forest threw the contest wide open when she bridged the gap with Bezzina to just 0.1 points to set up a tense finale.

But in the end, Bezzina showed her nerves of steel as she hit a score of 10.6 that lifted her to 229.4 while Pierre Forest only managed 8.8 to finish in second place on 226.7.

“I’m feeling a lot of emotions at the moment, winning gold was my biggest objective but it is not easy, particularly when you have so much pressure on your shoulders,” Bezzina said.

“The final was a hard-fought battle where for long spells I was in second place than suddenly I managed to bounce to the top position. However, then I committed mistake and she profited to go back in the lead. But the courage the Maltese fans gave me in the final part where they were continously shouting my name gave the necessary impetus to make the gold medal mine.”

For Bezzina this her third triumph and the veteran shooter admitted that it was the most special of all her triumphs.

“Winning here in Malta is without doubt very special and ranks at the top of all my victories,” she said.

“I won my first gold medal in Luxembourg, the second in Montenegro but this was in Malta was the most special as I won it in front of the home fans.”

Asked to whom she wanted to dedicate this medal, an emotional Bezzina said that this medal for her biggest fans – her parents.

“I want to dedicate this medal to my parents,” Bezzina said. “My father unfortunately is bed-ridden but has always been my number one fan and I want to dedicate it to them. I would also like to dedicate to my family, and to whoever has played a key role so that I’m standing here today.

“Behind me I have the support of the Maltese Olympic Committee, SportMalta and all my fellow team-mates at the Malta Air Rifle and Pistol Shooting Club who without them this success would not have been possible.”

Turning her sights on the future, Bezzina said that her next goals are the European Games and the World Championships.

“My focus in now will turn to more prestigious Games and in the next few weeks I will be part of a small contingent that will compete at the European Games and then I have the World Championships in Baku.

“My ultimate goal remains that to manage to qualify for my third Olympic Games in Paris next year.”

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