Nanjing 2014: Champions of the future right on target in the men’s shooting
Ukraine’s Pavlo Korostylov and China’s Yang Haoran produced world-class performances to earn respective gold medals in the 10m air pistol and rifle finals. In doing so they adapted seamlessly to a set of new rules, which even allow for the playing of music during competitions.
Sharpshooting Korostylov bags gold
Ukraine’s Pavlo Korostylov was a picture of concentration as he won the men’s 10m air pistol final. Shrugging off the many distractions around him, which included music, cheering from the stands and the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach, he maintained his focus to shoot his way to gold with a score of 203.4.
Finishing more than three points behind him in second was Republic of Korea’s Kim Cheongyong, with France’s Edouard Dortomb coming in 24.8 points adrift of the winner.
“Today I shot just like I do in training, like I did at the European Championships,” Korostylov said. “I try not to think about anything. I keep an empty head.”
By the time he had taken his tenth shot, the ever-consistent Korostylov had begun to pull away from the field. Never shooting below 9.5, the Ukrainian scored more than ten with all but seven of his shots.
Urged to take up the sport in 2008 by his mother, who is herself a shooter, the 16-year-old showed with his cool performance in Nanjing that he has the resolve to fulfil his goal of qualifying for Rio 2016.
Silver-medallist Kim was delighted with his efforts and the lively, new competition environment: “The music was no problem at all, it was fun and games. I don’t care about the ranking.”
Equally pleased with his efforts was the 14-year-old Dortomb. “It’s extraordinary,” he said. “I concentrated on my shooting, and just did what I could.”
At the end of the competition the athletes were each congratulated by Bach, International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) President Olegario Vazquez Rana and ISSF Secretary General Franz Schreiber.
Yang cheers China with golden display
Expectations were high ahead of the men’s 10m air rifle final, with the eyes of the host nation focused on local hero Yang Haoran.
Though he has only been competing on the ISSF all-ages circuit for the last two years, Yang has already claimed a world championship gold medal, three World Cup gold medals and a silver.
The 18-year-old was in near-perfect form in front of his home crowd at the Fangshan Shooting Hall, snaring an eagerly anticipated gold with a score of 209.3, well clear of Armenia’s Hrachik Babayan in second and Istvan Peni of Hungary in third.
“People have been paying more attention to me,” said Yang in reference to the extra pressure of competing at home, before revealing how he maintains his focus: “I stay calm, pay attention to other things and take a deep breath.”
Concentrating on the job in hand despite the rapturous applause that greeted his every shot, Yang shot consistently in the high tens, scoring a perfect 10.9 with his fifth shot and finishing strongly with a 10.7 and 10.5 final to seal the gold.
Victory was all but his by the fourth series of shots, when he took a comfortable 2.9 point lead over his nearest rival.
In the battle for silver, Uzbekistan’s Vadim Skorovarov, the 2014 Asian junior champion, held all the aces before shooting three nines in his last four shots to slip out of the medal places. Babayan took full advantage of his opponent’s woes, firing in the low tens in the 16th and 18th series to secure the runners-up slot.
“Yang is a first-rank shooter, but I must always try for first place,” said Babayan, who added that he will be training every day in a bid to surpass Yang and also qualify for Rio 2016.
Bronze-medallist Peni also had words of praise for the winner, calling him “the best shooter in the world”.
“It was really hard [to shoot against Yang],” added the Hungarian. “I hoped that I could beat him but today he was the best, absolutely. I’m looking forward to the World Championships [in Granada, Spain] next month. I hope I will beat him there.”