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Galkina looks to spoil Du's bid for Games' first gold
09:24, August 06, 2008

Behind the beautiful eyes and gentle smile of Russian markswoman Lioubov Galkina lurks a dangerous rival for China at the Beijing Olympics.

She has but one ambition: to stop Du Li winning the first gold medal at China's home Games.

The 35-year-old veteran settled for silver in Athens four years ago, narrowly losing to Du on the final shot of the 10m air rifle, as the Chinese won the first gold of the Athens Games.

Now Galkina, who gave birth to her first child last year, is back on the shooting range for Russia and is looking to block Du's defense of her "first-gold winner" title.

"The first gold medal is very special for any athlete," Galkina said through an interpreter during Russia's flag-raising ceremony in the Olympic Village yesterday. "My delegation didn't give me any pressure to win the first gold, but for me it will be a wonderful feeling if I finally take it.

"For sure, Du is the best shooter in this event, so what I am going to do is to try to push her and hopefully I will have a chance to win the special gold here in Beijing."

One of Russia's most successful female sharpshooters, Galkina returned to the range two months after giving birth to her first child in November having missed all of 2007.

She then finished fourth at the European Championships and fifth at the Good Luck Beijing Olympic trial in April.

Despite Galkina's limited achievements since her comeback, Du believes the veteran will be her main rival at the Games.

"You never underestimate an experienced shooter like Galkina," Du said in April. "She is always focused and I am sure she is able to win any top tournament as long as she is in good shape."

But Galkina is relaxed about the upcoming challenge, saying she will enjoy her time in the range.

"I am not at all nervous about the competition because every second is a bonus for me right now after giving birth to my boy," she said. "I just want to enjoy this great opportunity to compete in Beijing this time."

Confidence is running high throughout Russia's Olympic team. The country's top Olympic official said his athletes can win more medals this year in Beijing than they did four years ago in Athens.

"It would be very hard to surpass in the medal table the very strong teams of the United States and China," Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) chief Leonid Tyagachev said. "However, our athletes have worked hard to prepare for the Games in the best possible way and I believe they will perform very well at Beijing and improve the result they achieved four years ago at Athens."

Russia finished third in Athens on the medal table after the US and China, coming home with 92 medals in total (27 gold, 27 silver and 38 bronze).

The ROC boss said he was looking forward to Russian success in various ball games, where Russian teams and individual athletes have already racked up impressive achievements this season.

Source:China Daily

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