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Roundup: First gold, new world record inspire Paralympic shooters and spectators
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09:22, September 08, 2008

The Beijing Shooting Range Hall was seethed again on Sunday, about one month after the first Olympic gold was decided.

Almost all the seats in both the qualification and final halls were taken up, as hundreds of excited spectators witnessed the birth of first Beijing Paralympic gold medal and new world record.

The first gold, the one in women's 10-meter air rifle standing, was seized by Slovakian shooter Veronika Vadovicova, who collected 494.8 points with a distant lead from the silver and bronze medalists.

Impressing spectators with her stable performance in the qualification round, Vadovicova, gold medalist in 50-meter sport rifle three positions at the 2006 World Championships, topped the list of eight finalists with 392 points, or one point below the Paralympic record.

In the 10-shot final, the 25-year-old on a wheelchair further pulled away from her rivals by scoring all of the first nine shots above 10, including a highest score of 10.8 in the fourth shot.

Before the last shot, she had already enjoyed a comfortable lead of 5.2 points.

Although she finished with 9.5, the gold medal had already fell into her pockets.

"I think it was good though it was my lowest-scored shot in the final," said the joyful champion, who has attended the Paralympics twice before the Beijing tour.

In the event of men's 10-meter air pistol, Russian left-handed marksman Valeriy Ponomarenko, whose right arm was gone, improved the world records both in the qualification and the total by a staggering 6 and 2.6 points.

"I have prepared carefully for three years," said the father of two daughters, "I made a lot of efforts and it made me get the result."

"I never thought that I would be the champion as I did very bad in my training yesterday. However, I attended the Opening Ceremony and it excited me. This may have contributed to my success today," added the 38-year-old.

While spectators hurrahed for the medalists, they also showed respect to the rest.

When Australian 10-time Paralympian Libby Kosmala, already 66 years old and appearing a little bit tired in the lengthy competition, didn't do well in some shots, she was also greeted with applauses.

In the men's 10-meter air pistol SH1 event, in which two Chinese shooters entered the final, many of their compatriots waved national flags and shouted "Come on, Chinese team," with smiles on their faces.

"From this competition, I changed my view towards the disabled," said Wang Yaodong, a retiree who was accompanied by his wife to watch the competition.

"At first, I couldn't stand seeing them competing for such a long time," he said, "but later I was touched by their adamancy. They were trying their every best, which coincided with the Olympic spirit."

"Compared with the Olympic athletes, those on the Paralympic arena are more inspiring. They tided over more difficulties to come here," said the middled-aged Shang Yuliang in a wheelchair, who is doctor from a clinic in the Quyang county of neighboring Hebei Province, some 220 kilometers away from Beijing.

Although no Chinese shooter won a medal, Chinese netizens showed their understanding and support on the website of xinhuanet.com.

"We shouldn't attach so much attention to the first gold," said one named Wu Shanqing, "just enjoy the happiness of participation, and throw away the burden that shouldn't be associated with sports."

"Unlike the Olympics, Paralympics stresses humanity and efforts. Let us give our applauses to all the athletes, who have already created a miracle by standing on the Paralympic arena," followed another nicknamed Kele.

Li Jinwei, a third netizen, extended his respect to all the disabled people who love life. "You are warriors, you are heroes!" he wrote, "we will forever be by your side."

Source: Xinhua

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