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Last chance for Russia to regain shooting glory
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16:01, August 16, 2008

The shooting tycoon of Russia seemed silent on the Beijing Olympic Shooting Range.

After seven days of competitions, it only collected two silver medals and two bronze.

Therefore, the men's 50-meter rifle three positions event on Sunday is seen as the last chance for the country to pick up a gold.

Shouldering the responsibility are 38-year-old Artem Khadjibekov and Sergei Kovalenko.

Khadjibekov was world champion in 2006. He was gold medalist at the Atlanta Olympic Games and runner-up in Sydney, but both in 10-meter air rifle event.

In three positions, he finished as fourth and fifth in Sydney and Athens. The man also won two bronze medals from World Cup Finals in 2005 and 2006.

Kovalenko is gold medalist at the 2005 Munich World Cup Final in three positions. In 2004 and 2006, he won two silver in the international event. The shooter also competed in the Athens four years ago, but ended up ninth.

The pair are likely to face a handful of ace shooters.

One of them is American shooter Matthew Emmons. The 27-year-old just snatched a silver in rifle prone on Friday.

Four years ago in Athens, the world champion made a well-known mistake in the last shot of the event by firing at another athlete's target, hence losing his second Olympic gold medal.

This year, he appeared sharp and keen. Encouraged by his wife Katerina who just bagged a gold and a silver, the man could be a formidable rival, if he won't repeat his mistake on Sunday.

Artur Ayvazyan from Ukraine just seized a gold in 50-meter rifle prone event, although his fame was achieved from three position event.

He had a bronze from 2007 World Cup Final in three position event. In Sydney and Athens, he finished fifth and seventh in the discipline.

The 35-year-old had said that he would dedicate his prone gold to his late coach. But the old man in heaven might be happier if he could clinch another one.

Rajmond Debevec from Slovenia was both world record and Olympic record holder of three positions.

A 45-year-old veteran shooter, he got the gold at Sydney Olympics in the discipline and was fourth-placer in Athens. He also had a gold from 2006 World Cup Final and a bronze from 1998 World Championships.

Last but not least was Chinese shooter Jia Zhanbo, defending champion in the event. Although his victory was controversial, he was ranked No.1 then in the qualification round.

Coming from the populous Henan province, the 33-year-old shooter is eager to prove his real ability on the Olympic arena. In this year, he had won a gold medal at the Munich fort of World Cup in the event, and a bronze in Milan.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 27 10 6 43
2 USA 15 14 19 48
3 Germany 8 3 5 16
4 South Korea 6 9 3 18
5 Italy 6 5 4 15
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