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Breakthrough for former shooting champions at Beijing Olympics
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They are former Olympic champions. On Thursday, they not only continued their glories, but harvested medals from new disciplines at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Applauses should be given to Du Li, the Chinese shooter who staged a comeback after a failure on Saturday to smash the Olympic record in the women's 50-meter rifle three positions.

Her total score, 690.3 points or 1.9 points higher than the previous one held by Russian Lioubov Galkina, ensured her a hard-won Olympic gold medal in her own country.

Du, 26 years' old from the eastern Shandong province, advanced to the final with an Olympic record-equaling 589 points, one point higher than Eqlis Yaima Cruz of Cuba, while Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic was ranked sixth with 586 points.

Competition in the final was so fierce that each shot changed positions of the shooters.

In the first shot, the Chinese who made a late firing scored only 8.7 points, losing the starting advantage and slipped to the third. The leading position was taken by her 28-year-old Cuban rival who collected a 10.3.

In the second shot, Du seemed to regain her sharpness a bit amid cries of "Du, Come On" from spectators, and climbed to the second with a 10.3.

The third shot saw her further mustering up her strength to make a 10.4. She then shared the No. 1 position with surging Olga Dovgun from Kazakhstan.

Cruz plunged to the third with a 9.3, 0.7 point behind the leading pair.

Olympic 10-meter air rifle champion Emmons, with the staggering 10.7, 10.1 and 10.7, mounted to the fourth, 0.2 points behind Cruz and 0.9 behind Du.

However, Du didn't seem to hold her nerves in the following two shots, collecting a 9.8 and a 9.9. With the scores she dropped to the second and was 0.1 point behind Cruz, but 0.3 points before the fourth-placer Emmons who made a 9.7 in her fifth shot.

Burying her head in the right arm for quite a while after each shot, Du managed to delight spectators with a 10.8 point in the six shot, and hence pulled away to secure her leading position in the following shots.

After the final, Du forced a smile to spectators, before sobbing in joy.

"My tears today are definitely not shed for the same reason as on Saturday," she said.

With lots of international title, Du was crowned on the same day, August 14, in 2004 in the women's 10-meter air rifle at the Athens Olympics. But she lost her nerves out of jitters in the same event five days ago and finished only as fifth placer.

"The five days seemed to me longer than four years. But many people offered me their support and encouragement, some volunteers sent me cards, which made me realize that I couldn't give up, and I have no reason to give up," added Du.

She admitted being nervous in the first shot.

"But after that, I kept telling myself that I can't make the same mistake twice. I must carry on."

Three positions was not Du's major discipline.

Few people could still remember that Du made her name in the Busan Asian Games in 2002, when the young shooter snatched the gold in three positions.

Later, she concentrated in 10-meter air rifle and competed less in the three position events.

"I am a little weak in this event," she admitted after winning a gold medal of the event at the Good Luck Beiijng World Cup.

Always dreamed to pick up this discipline, the Chinese woman shooter could be satisfied this time.

Applauses should also be given to American Kimberly Rhode, although the 29-year-old just won a silver in the women's skeet event.

Previously a shooter in double trap, she won two gold medals in the event at the Athens and Atlanta Olympics as well as a bronze in Sydney.

However, as the discipline was concelled in the Beijing Olympics, she converted to skeet in 2006.

"It was challenging, both physically and mentally," admitted Rhode.

With 70 hits from the qualification round, she was tied third with German Christine Brinker and Chinese Wei Ning.

But the baby-faced blonde managed to catch up and end with Italian markswoman Chiara Cainero, who led the qualification with two more points, and Brinker in a draw.

During the shoot-off in heavy rain, she managed to knock down the first plate but let go of the second. The lapse sent Cainero to the gold podium.

In the following stage of the prolonged shoot-off, Rhode rallied to down both targets 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.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2008)

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