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Australia’s Catherine Skinner was rewarded with gold for her perseverance in a tense women’s trap shooting final at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Deodoro. Ranked 13th in the world, the 26-year-old first-time Olympian got the better of New Zealand’s Natalie Rooney in the gold medal match, hitting 12 of her 15 targets to seal victory by a single clay and become Australia’s second Olympic women’s trap champion, after Suzanne Balogh in 2004. Competing at her third Games, the USA’s Corey Cogdell won the second bronze medal of her Olympic career after a shoot-off with Spain’s Fatima Galvez, this after each had shot 13 of their 15 targets.
The Melbourne-based Skinner, who has been competing since 2006, booked an automatic ticket to the final from the six-shooter semi-finals. Rooney joined her there after a sudden-death shoot-off with Cogdell, but could not quite match Skinner in the battle for gold. Understandably elated at winning what was her country’s third gold medal of Rio 2016, the Australian struggled to describe her emotions: “I cannot really because it has not quite sunk in. It has been one of these dreams that has come along, and you just hope for the best and keep chipping away. But, at the end of the day, in this sport it all comes down to on the day. Any one of the competitors here could have won, and today just happened to be my day.”
Holding back the tears, Skinner added: “It’s been a rough sort of process, because I keep on being the bridesmaid. So I’ve got several silvers, several bronzes, and finally I’ve got the gold. There has been lots of tears and tantrums in the build-up to this. I’m sure there are plenty of people back at home saying, ‘I told you so’. You just never know.”
Defending Olympic champion Jessica Rossi of Italy, who set a world record in winning gold at London 2012, could do no better than sixth, while world number one Ray Bassil of Lebanon fared no better. Having turned up with high hopes of winning her country’s first ever Olympic gold medal, the 27-year-old failed to make the final cut. Bassil was in good company, with Beijing 2008 champion Satu Makela-Nummela of Finland, also missing out on the fight for the medals.
Croatian police officer Josip Glasnovic took the men’s trap gold courtesy of steely performance in a tense final, holding his nerve to see off Italy’s Giovanni Pellielo in a shoot-off. After tying with the Italian at 13-13, the 33-year-old Zagreb shooter scored a 4-3 sudden-death win to take the Olympic title in dramatic fashion.
“I just focus on the target and keep it simple,” said the victorious Glasnovic. Great Britain’s Edward Ling completed the podium thanks to a 13-9 defeat of Beijing 2008 champion David Kostelecky of the Czech Republic in the match for bronze.
It was a case of déjà vu for the 46-year-old Pellielo, who added another silver to the two he won at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, with the Italian having also won bronze at Sydney 2000. Defending champion Giovanni Cernogoraz of Croatia missed out on a place in the six-man final after he could finish no higher than ninth in the qualification round, while Athens 2004 winner Alexey Alipov of Russia finished seventh in the qualifiers, which were topped Pellielo.
Glasnovic scored a perfect 15 in the semi-final, with Pellielo scoring one point fewer to join him in the final, where the Croatian was the first to miss, with his sixth shot. The Italian then missed two targets in a row to hand the initiative right back, only for Glasnovic to fail with his 13th shot. That left the scores tied ahead of a nail-biting shoot-off, which ended with gold going to a Croatian shooter for the second Games running.
“I shot very well. I was very focused and I gave my all,” commented Glasnovic. “I didn’t look at the scores after the qualification round because I didn’t want to know what position I was in. But I knew I was up among the leaders because I was handling the wind well. I told myself that I had to shoot as well as I could.” Asked for his thoughts on seeing the Croatian flag rise over the podium, Glasnovic replied: “I don’t know. I just don’t know. Tearful.”
Giving his views on his third silver, Pellielo said: “This medal is special because it’s come at the age of 46. The shoot-off was a bit like the golden goal in football. I missed just the one target and I came very close. That’s the way it goes. Every time I climb on to the podium it feels special and different to the time before. I’m going to keep on competing as long as I’m around.”
Six-time Olympian Fehaid Aldeehani overcame challenging weather conditions to pip Italy’s Marco Innocenti to the men’s double trap gold. Competing in Rio as an Independent Olympic Athlete, Aldeehani defied the wind and rain to nail 26 targets out of 30 to the Italian’s 24. In an all-British shoot-off for bronze, Steven Scott shot a perfect 30 to defeat Tim Kneale.
The turning point of the final came in the eighth round, when Innocenti missed both targets to drop two points behind, a deficit he would not make up. Aldeehani, who made his Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992, continued to pick off the targets en route to a gold that takes his medal collection to three, following the bronzes he won at Sydney 2000 and London 2012.
“To finally win this gold medal means a lot to me, it’s very special,” said the victorious Aldeehani. “It has been a very tough day, but I was able to come through. My achievement is for myself. The message is that it’s never too late. I feel young, and I am in shape. In shooting you need experience. Experience and self-confidence overcome age.”
Though disappointed not to have topped the podium, the 37-year-old Innocenti was nevertheless thrilled with his silver: “Very proud of what I have achieved. I would prefer gold, but very proud to get a medal. I knew that this is probably my last Olympic participation. Therefore, there was a lot of pressure, and once I found out I was guaranteed a medal at the end of the semi-final, I released and started to cry. Finally, I made it to the podium, I have been chasing this result for 20 years.”
Bronze medallist Scott admitted to having mixed emotions about beating his compatriot to the last place on the podium: “I do feel for him. He has a very good shot. I’ll apologise to him later.” Ranked No1 in the ISSF World Ranking, Australia’s James Willett qualified second for the six-man final round, behind Germany’s Andreas Loew, but finished out of the medals in fifth after losing out in a three-way semi-final shoot-off with the British pair.
Olympic debutant Diana Bacosi beat Beijing 2008 champion Chiara Cainero 15-14 in an all-Italian women’s skeet final. “I can’t believe it. It’s an extraordinary feeling,” said the new champion. “I’ve worked so hard. I did so many sacrifices to come here. I’m so happy.”
Bacosi, who missed just one target in the final, said she had not expected to go so far in the competition, and that facing off against her old friend Cainero was a strange feeling: “We are very close friends. It was a great and emotional to fight against her but it was a struggle too. I’m very proud to have beaten another gold medallist, though. My initial goal was to get to the semis and from there to play my game and do my best. Maybe it was just my time and my day.”
In the bronze medal match, three-time Olympic champion Kim Rhode of the USA defeated China’s Wei Meng 7-6 in a shoot-off to make the podium for the sixth Games in a row, a record for a female athlete and one only matched by Italian luger Armin Zöggeler of Winter Games fame. The American shooter, who won double trap gold on making her Games debut at Atlanta 1996 as a 17-year-old, is the sixth athlete to win six medals in six Summer Games. Unlike Hungarian fencer Aladár Gerevich, German rider Hans Günter Winkler, German kayaker Birgit Fischer, Romanian rower Elisabeta Lipa and Dutch rider Anky Van Grunsven, however, Rhode achieved the feat in individual events and at consecutive Games.
As well as her gold at Atlanta 1996, Rhode won double trap bronze at Sydney 2000 and another gold at Athens 2004 before the event was dropped from the Olympic programme, prompting her to switch to skeet. Back on the podium to collect silver at Beijing 2008, she then claimed her third Olympic title at London 2012. After completing her set of six medals in Rio, Rhode said: “The Olympic Games is all about the journey. It’s about overcoming the highs and lows, the obstacles, the good and the bad. I’ve always said that bronze is tough and gold is easy.” Contemplating the future, she added: “I’ll be back. I’m going to take part in my seventh Games and I hope they won’t be my last.”
In the final clay shooting event of Rio 2016, Italy’s Gabriele Rossetti followed up Bacosi women’s skeet victory to land the men’s gold. With Niccolo Campriani also winning two rifle titles, Italy topped the shooting medals table at the Games.
A 21-year-old police officer and Olympic debutant, Rossetti registered a perfect score of 16 in the final, defeating Marcus Svensson of Sweden by just one shot. “I am the champion. I am the champion, that’s all. I am happy,” said the Italian, whose father Bruno won bronze in the same event at Barcelona 1992. “I always imagined I could win gold… My dad won the bronze, and now I’ve got the gold at my first Olympic Games. I will sleep well tonight.”
Appearing at his sixth Games, Independent Olympic Athlete Abdullah Al-Rashidi beat Ukraine’s Mikola Milchev 16-14 in the match for bronze, winning his first ever medal in the process, much to the delight of the crowd, who took the moustachioed Al-Rashidi to their hearts. “I am very happy,” beamed the 52-year-old. “So happy with the Brazilian people because I heard this support from their heart… Thank you very much Brazil, I don’t know why, but I love Brazilian people. Now Brazil is in my heart. This is the Olympics and I won a medal and I will not forget Brazil or Rio de Janeiro.”