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Fledgling shooter grabbing spotlight
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19:49, August 16, 2008

On the star-studded Olympic shooting range on Saturday, veteran shooters were overshadowed by newcomers.

American teenager Vincent Hancock kept rubbing his hands against his pants due to nervousness. But this doesn't hamper the world record holder, who notched up a full mark of 150 in skeet at the Lonato world cup last year, to win the gold.

Topping the tally of qualification with 121 hits, the 19-year-old took the lead in the final until the sixth series, when he missed the second one of the three clay targets and fell tied with 38-year-old Norwegian Tore Brovold.

In the shoot-off at the fourth position, one that was considered hardest, the duo both caught the first pair of the plates.

When the second pair came out, the Norwegian shot down the first but saw the second churning to the left, while Hancock downed both at the breathtaking moment.

Turning around, he saw his 74-year-old coach jumping in excitement.

"I have always dreamed of getting gold and now I've got it," said the smiling champion.

Talking about his missed target, Hancock said he didn't see it.

"I took my time on it and I guess my vision was blurred," he said. "I wasn't nervous during the competition until then. When I missed the low house shot it only made me more determined."

"Hancock is not only talented, he is a genius," said Zhang Shan, who was gold medalist in skeet at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

In men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol, 21-year-old Russian Leonid Ekimov impressed people with his performance, although he failed to gain medals at last.

Ranked in the second among finalists with 581 points, he didn't start well with just a 46.6 in the first of the four five-shot series.

But the European champion managed to chalk up the highest 50.9 and 51.0 points in the following series.

In the last series, had he collected a 50.8, he would be able to overturn "shooting machine" Ralf Schumann and world record holder Christian Reitz.

All eyes were fixed on him while people expected the boy to bring Russia a first Olympic shooting gold in Beijing.

Unfortunately Ekimov 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.

Although there was no medal for him, it was a breakthrough for Ekimov, whose major discipline was air pistol.

He was told to compete in rapid pistol at the Olympics at the end of July, before departure of the Russian shooting squad, taking place of Sydney Olympics champion Sergai Alifirenko. The 49-year-old Alifirenko had eye illness and was absent from the Olympics.

"I am a hundred percent satisfied with his performance today," said Oleg Lapkin, head coach of the Russian shooting team.

Source: Xinhua

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8 Russia 4 4 8 20
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