By David Gold

24032011_Matsuda-2March 30 - Japan's two-time pistol World Champion Tomoyuki Matsuda claimed two gold medals at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Sydney despite being part of the team which found itself at the epicentre of the earthquake which devastated his home country earlier this month.

The Japanese National Air Gun Championship was taking place in Ishinomaki when the earthquake struck on March 11, forcing the athletes to run and swim for their lives in the midst of the tsunami which followed the initial tremor.

Miraculously, they all survived, and rifle shooter Midori Yajima spoke of his horror in Sydney.

"Every time an aftershock came I was frightened, I was wearing the shooting jacket, and I could not move quickly," he said.

"It was scary."

Fellow shooter Seiko Iwata added: "After the earthquake, we just wanted to leave the place.

"We wanted to go back home, but with the gasoline shortage we couldn't move from there."

The clay target team decided to withdraw from the World Cup, whilst just five rifle and pistol shooters opted to travel to Sydney.

A Kanagawa police officer, Matsuda's training schedule was badly affected, with the last time had he practised shooting from 50 metres being at the end of February.

Yet the 2010 Shooter of the Year overcame the odds to clinch the men's 10 metres air pistol title.

Without his coach Emil Dushanov, he then added the men's 50m pistol title to his growing collection.

Matsuda dedicated his victories to Japan and said: "I think I gained positive momentum from the earthquakes.

"There are people who are forced to have a tougher life than I do.

"The pressure was high. I felt the responsibility to perform well, I guess the results came from the responsibility I was feeling.

"As a representative of Japan, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the support.

"Everyone here also asked me if I was okay while I was in Japan, I was touched by them."

The games were a resounding success, with participants chasing 34 Olympic Quota places across the rifling, pistol and shotgun shooting disciplines.

Franz Schreiber, secretary general of the ISSF, told insidethegames: "It has been a record World Cup Stage, a great success, with more than 700 participants from 68 countries."

"It's one of the highest participation ever recorded, in shooting."

Matsuda will now go on to compete in the next stage of the World Cup in Korea next month.

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