Veteran German shooter seeks to continue his legend

July 15th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 15 (Xinhua) Veteran German shooter Ralph Schumann, who is counted among the present day shooting legends, is looking to extend his feat in the Olympic Games that starts next month. At the Munich World Cup this May, the 46-year-old bettered the world record of men’s 25-meter rapid-fire pistol from 788.8 points to 790.0 points. Before that he had held the record with 786.4 and 787.7 points.

“My main motivation is to always prove, not that I’m the best, but that I’ve practiced what I’ve learned to the best of my ability during the competition,” he said.

Born in Meissen in Saxony, Schumann was advised against practicing shooting because he was “too small”.

Turning point of his story came later when a schoolboy brought along an air pistol, with which he fired 10 shots. The group trainer commented “he’s standing there like a rapid fire shooter”.

Two weeks later, the 14-year-old Schumann was sent to the training centre for sport pistol.

“Then everything happened in a flash,” he recalled.

In 1981, Schumann won the national competition. One year later he debuted at the junior European Championships (ECH) in Rome and finished fourth after dropping from the first place due to his last series.

He failed to participate in the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 as it was boycotted. For years later, the Seoul Games granted him a silver.

To protect his fingers, which are important for shooters, the auto mechanic later moved to Mercedes-Benz. He got the permission from company to receive the training in the afternoons while working in the morning.

To date, Schumann has raked in more than 40 gold medals from world championships and World Cups, as well as three from the Olympic Games.

“The one who has the best grip on himself at the range is the one who wins in our sport,” said the veteran athlete, once dubbed as “shooting machine. “And to have a grip on things in shooting means to be calm and to have yourself under complete control.”

Talking about rapid fire pistol shooting, Schumann said what was especially fascinating about it was that “you have no possibility to ‘put the gun down’ or to dodge a shot.”

“When the start signal is given, you have to endure to the end,” he said, adding those who never gave up were his role models in general.

“You have to persevere. No matter what happens,” he added. “I too got fed up with things about three times a week, but I made the choice myself and have chosen to take this path.”

Perhaps these words reflect his psychology when taking part in his fourth, or theoretically fifth, Olympic Games.

“If you can repeat the victory, that is an absolute feeling,” he had said before the Athens Games.

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