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Skelhon clenches gold at his first Paralympic
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The 24-year-old Matt Skelhon won his first Paralympic medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games when he claimed a title in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone-SH1 at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall on Thursday, September 11.

There was a major upset in the qualification round, and event favorite Jonas Jakobsson didn't make the final by a tiny margin of one point.

Without the defending champion of this event, the gold medal was up for grabs as the eight finalists were within just one point difference after the qualification round. Skelhon and local female shooter Zhang Cuiping both finished the qualification equaling the world and Paralympic record of 600 points.

Skelhon, who is famous for his sparkly hair style, started the final strongly, snatching a 10.5 with his opening shot. He was flawless this afternoon, never dipping under 10.2 throughout the session. His total score was 704.9 points.

Zhang came second with a total score of 704.4 points. She sank to fourth after her seventh attempt, but fought back well in the next three rounds, including a perfect 10.9 on the eighth shot. The silver is her second medal at Beijing 2008 - she grabbed Bronze in the Women's 50m Sport Rifle 3x20-SH1 on Tuesday, September 9.

The bronze medal was decided by a three-way shoot-off among Sim Jae-yong, Christos Trifonidis and Radoslav Malenovsky as the three finished the 10 shots session the same score of 703.8 points. Sim scored the highest (10.7) and collected bronze. He showed his toughness in a shoot-off -- he also won silver in this event by winning a shoot-off with Kazimierz Mechula of Denmark at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.

Lee Ji-seok of Republic of Korea earned his second gold at Beijing 2008 when he won the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing-SH2.

Entering first to the final after he equaled a world and Paralympic record (600) in the qualification, the Korean looked unbeatable, never dipping below 10.1 in the 10 shots session. He finished strongly, getting a good score of a 10.6 in his last and 10th shot. His total tally was 704.3 points which also equaled the Paralympic final record.

Frenchman Raphael Voltz came second with a total score of 703.5 points. He hit a bull's eye snatching a perfect 10.9 in his fifth attempt. Voltz was the most consistent shooter, scoring the highest total score of the session, 105.5 points.

Ji-seok and Voltz won gold and silver respectively in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone-SH2 on Tuesday, 9 September.

The bronze medalist was again decided by another shoot-off between the defending champion Michael Johnson of New Zealand and You Ho-gyoung of the Republic of Korea. You shot first and scored a 10.2. Johnson then nailed a better point than You, a 10.6 and secured his first medal at Beijing 2008.

(BOCOG September 12, 2008)

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