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Ukrainian Petriv wins men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol gold as late birthday gift
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14:15, August 16, 2008


Oleksandr Petriv of Ukraine competes during Men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Final of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Shooting event in Beijing, China, Aug. 16, 2008. He won the gold medal in the event. (Xinhua/Li Ga)

Oleksandr Petriv from Ukraine grabbed the Olympic gold medal in the men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol at the Beijing Shooting Range on Saturday, 10 days after his 34th birthday.

His winning score of 780.2 points, also set an Olympic record after rule of the discipline was changed.

German ace shooters Ralf Schumann and Christian Reitz took the silver and bronze with 779.5 and 779.3 points respectively.

Ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in the qualification round with 580, 579 and 579, the trio was in the first team to compete.

In the first of the four five-shot series, both Petriv and world recorder holder, 21-year-old 2006 world champion Reitz scored 50.8 points, while defending champion Schumann collected only 49.2 points.

But the legendary shooter, dubbed "shooting machine" who was also Atlanta and Barcelona Olympics gold medalist in the event, progressed steadily with his performance in each series better than that in the last.

Opportunity came in the third series, when Petriv aroused exclamation of surprise by chalking up only 48.4, Schumann and Reitz got 50.2 and 52.4 points respectively.

Reizt hence was ranked first, 1.9 points ahead of the Ukrainian and 3.4 points more than his compatriot. The distance between Petriv and Schumann was 1.5 points.

In the last series, Petriv managed to regain his sharpness and finish with 50.8, while Reitz failed to keep his nerves and gained only 48.0. Although Schumann achieved a 51.6, the score is not enough to surpass his Ukrainian rival.

The second team, composing top three shooters from the qualification round headed by American shooter Keith Sanderson with 583 points, played later. But they were all finally found overturned.

The most noticeable was Russian shooter Leonid Ekimov.

Before his last series, he needed a 50.7 to be crowned.

But the 21-year-old whose major discipline was air pistol, was out of gear at last and collected only 48.7. This score not only extinguished his hope for gold, but also dragged him to the fourth.

Sanderson scored none of the series above 50.0 and plunged to the fifth.

Petriv appeared quite excited after winning the competition, blowing kisses to applauding spectators and photographers.

"I was quite calm during the final," he said, "It's my day."

His personal best of qualification was 583. But this time, although lagged behind a bit, he was sure he had a chance to win.

In the final, he said, "the second and the fifth shot in every series were the most difficult ones for me, probably for psychological reasons."

Talking about his career, Petriv noted that he could continue shooting for quite a long time.

"There are both very young shooters like Christian Reitz and Leonid Ekimov and veterans like Ralf Schumann," he said.

However, as he had practiced for 22 years and devoted most of his time and energy into shooting, the man, still single, shifted the focus of his life to starting a family.

Schumann considered himself lucky to surge from the fifth to the second.

"I thank Jesus that I made it," he said, "this is my sixth Olympic Games, but every medal has the same excitement."

The veteran shooter said he would go to London for the next Olympics.

"It's my focus to try again at the age of 51. It's a very good feeling to get medals."

To Reitz, Schumann used to be an idol.

"I have watched him competing on television when I was young," he said.

And this time, he took the advice from Schumann to develop his technique.

"This gave me advantage," said the youngster gratefully.

Two Chinese shooters Zhang Penghui and Liu Zhongsheng failed to edge into the final. Zhang was disqualified for rule violation, as he raised his arm too soon before being allowed for three times.

Source:Xinhua

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