China, Russia to fight for shooting honours at Beijing

July 17th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 17 (Xinhua) The forthcoming Beijing Olympics starting Aug 8 will witness a bitter rivalry between the Chinese and Russians in the shooting event. China and Russia are considered two powerhouses in the sport. At the Athens Olympic Games, Chinese shooters swept four gold, two silver and three bronze medals, while Russians bagged three gold, four silver and three bronze.

The World Championships two years ago in Croatia was also dominated by the two countries and each took five golds.

Ace shooters from both countries are nip and tuck, as was proven at the Athens Games, when Chinese Du Li and Wang Yifu beat their Russian counterparts Lioubov Galkina and Mikhail Nestruev in women’s 10-meter air rifle and men’s 10-metre air pistol respectively only after the last shot in the final.

However, even shooting powers have their worries.

Chinese athletes are facing unprecedented pressure while competing at home, while Russia didn’t release its shooting roster until June, leaving too short time to train for the Games.

The German team, led by world champions Ralph Schumann and Sonja Pfeilschifter, is trying to stage a comeback and pick up its past glory.

The left-hand Pfeilschifter not only holds world record in the women’s 50-metre rifle three positions, but improved Du Li’s previous record in 10-metre air rifle by 0.1 point at the Milan World Cup two months ago.

“Pfeilschifter is better than anybody else, including Du,” admitted Wang Yifu.

Dubbed the “shooting machine”, Schumann has reaped three Olympic gold medals and a silver.

“There are many good shooters in the world, but Schumann was peerless,” said Chinese former Olympic champion Zhang Shan.

The US team doesn’t have many big names, but one is enough. Matthew Emmons is familiar with the Chinese. Four years ago, the marksman made a weird mistake and fired the last shot at a wrong target, surrendering the Olympic gold medal to Chinese shooter Jia Zhanbo.

“Crap happens,” he said after the event. “I will live to shoot another day.”

But crap don’t happen all the time. When the formidable rival comes again, along with his wife Katerina Emmons who shone at the Good Luck Beijing World Cup by equalling Du Li’s former world record, everybody should be better prepared.

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