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Triple gold medalist Cao Yifei pins champion dream on Olympics
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Sharpshooter Cao Yifei is one of the biggest winners of the 6th Chinese City Games, who captured three gold medals in men's 50-meter rifle prone, rifle three positions and 10-meter air rifle team event.

But the glory was less than enough to ensure him a ticket to the 2008 Olympic arena in Beijing.

"Competing in the Olympics is the dream of every athlete," said the 19-year-old who holds the national record of men's 50-meter rifle prone with a score of 702.7 points, "but I couldn't think too much of this. My current job is to improve myself and do well in each competition."

In men's 50-meter rifle prone on Saturday, the boy from Chengdu of southwest China's Sichuan Province strode into the final with a leading 596 points in the qualification round.

In the ten-shot final, Cao held his nerves to score eight of the hits above 10 points. Although he failed to rewrite the national record he set in the 2005 National Games of 702.7 points, his marks were good enough to secure him the gold.

However, Wang Yifu, head coach of the national team, was not satisfied with Cao's performance. "He should have scored 104 to 105 points in the final," he said. Cao achieved 103.8 points.

If his performance in that event was only passable, Cao presented a brilliant show to the audience in the men's 50-meter rifle three positions event on Tuesday afternoon.

Eight points less than Liu Gang in the qualification round and tied with Zhu Qinan, the teenage shooter managed to surpass the Asian Games gold medalist and beat the world champion to snatch gold with his stable performance.

"In the final, I tried not to look at the scores shown on the screen, just concentrating on my performance," he said in relief.

"He is young, but appeared calm and composed in competitions," said Wang Yifu.

The comment was shared by Yan Yi, Cao's coach. "With his psychological advantage and diligence, Cao is competitive in men's rifle prone, 10-meter air rifle and 50-meter three positions," he said, "but he needs to beef up in basic skills."

Ranked No. 4 in men's 50-meter rifle prone in national shooting squad, Cao is unable to compete in the upcoming Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait for a ticket to the Olympic arena in the discipline.

In the men's 10-meter air rifle, he was in the third place of the national squad's score list, but well behind Zhu Qinan.

"Rifles are easy to learn but hard to be proficient," Yan said, "to make a name for himself in the world, he definitely had to make more efforts."

(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2007)

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