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Italy's Cainero wins Olympic women's skeet gold
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Chiara Cainero of Italy competes during the women's skeet final at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2008. Chiara Cainero of Italy claimed the title in this event. [Xinhua]

Chiara Cainero of Italy competes during the women's skeet final at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2008. Chiara Cainero of Italy claimed the title in this event. [Xinhua]

Italian shooter Chiara Cainero won the gold of the women's skeet after a shoot-off at the Beijing Shooting Range on Thursday. Her score, 93 hits, set an Olympic record for the rule changing.

Sharing the same score with the champion, American Kimberly Rhode nailed down the silver and German shooter Christine Brinker got the bronze.

Gold medalist at the 2006 World Cup Final and runner-up in 2007, the 30-year-old collected 72 hits in the qualification round to lead among six finalists, while the American, 29, and the German, 27, notched up 70 hits as third and fourth.

With a good start, Cainero missed the first of the three targets in the second series and the last in the third series.

This dragged her to the same line with Rhode and Brinker who boasted an all-hit record so far.

In the competition later on, the trio each missed two birds in heavy rain and were forced to a shoot-off.

The baby-faced Rhode started first. She managed to knock down the first plate but let go of the second.

The brown-haired 2007 world champion did the same.

When Cainero raised her gun, her compatriots carrying Italian national flag were about to cheer.

And the pretty shooter did let them down. Two hits. The gold was hers.

"This is the first important victory for me," she was excited. Although she had victories in both European Championships and World Cups, she ended her last Olympic trip with just an eighth place.

"I feel really lucky because this morning in the qualification I was able to shoot without any background noise, which helped me reach the final," she said.

But the final in the afternoon was difficult. "The weather was bad," she said, "but the weather was the same for everyone competing today."

In the following stage of the prolonged shoot-off, Rhode rallied to down both target while Brinker lapsed again, surrendering the silver to the smiling blonde.

Although she didn't win the gold, Rhode appeared optimistic.

"I have a collection now. I have a gold, a silver and a bronze," she smiled.

The girl won two gold medals in double trap at Athens and Atlanta Olympics as well as a bronze in Sydney.

Previously a shooter in double trap event, she converted to skeet in 2006 as the former disciplined was cancelled at the Beijing Games.

"It is challenging, both physically and mentally," she had said.

Rhode conveyed her gratitude to her compatriots. "I'd like to say thank you to all the people back home for getting me where I am today."

Brinker said she was very happy as well.

"I didn't lose the gold, I won the bronze," said the girl.

She also complained about the rain. "My feet and shoes are wet, and the rain made it difficult to shoot."

Chinese shooter Wei Ning entered the final with the same score of a 70 hits. But she failed to hold her nerves and plunged to the sixth.

The dampened girl burst into tears immediately after the final.

"The problem was not about the technique, but the rain. It really affected my performances because the rain made my gun slippery so I missed several target. I paid too much attention to my posture but neglected the most important thing."

She noted that the rain also affected her mental state. "I was a little upset and in a hurry," she said.

World record holder Danka Bartekova from Slovakia and defending champion Diana Igaly from Hungary finished 8th and 13th, failing to advance to the final.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)

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