Michael Diamond is in prime form, topping qualifying for the Olympic trap with a perfect score of 75 after some great results by Aussie athletes over the weekend.
As the weather changed from overcast to rain to sunshine, no one in the men’s trap field had it easy but Diamond smashed target after target for a perfect 75 in the first three rounds of qualifying, the only one to do so.
Diamond holds the Olympic qualifying record of 124, and already has two Olympic gold medals in trap.
However, five shooters are just a point behind the six-times Olympian, with two rounds of qualifying to come before the finals this evening.
With such a tight group at the head of the competition, Australia’s Adam Vella, on 69, will have to find some magic to make the finals.
Meanwhile, Suzy Balogh has flown the flag high for Australia during a weekend of record-breaking results in other Olympic shooting events.
Trap record shattered
Australia’s Suzy Balogh qualified third for the finals of the women’s trap at the London Olympic Games on the weekend, with a score of 72 that included a perfect third round.
But it wasn’t enough to overshadow Italy’s Jessica Rossi, who qualified on top with a perfect 75 and then blasted the women’s trap world record, pushing it from a score of 96 to a near ideal 99 targets on her way to gold.
Balogh went backwards in final, hitting only 15 of the 25 targets, dropping to sixth and walking away in tears.
However, the Athens Games gold medallist said those tears weren’t for missing out on a medal, but more out of joy and relief, and for proving that at 39 years old she can still compete against the best.
Rossi had hardly any doubt that she’d take the win: “I have to say after the first five traps I really had complete confidence that I could do it,” she said.
Rossi finished an amazing six points up on the silver medal winner, Slovakia’s Zuzana Stefecekova, who relegated France’s Delphine Reau to bronze in a shoot-off that left Argentina’s Alessandra Perilli in fourth.
Incredible men’s 50m rifle record
Stony faced Belarussian Sergei Martynov proved he can smile when he demolished the opposition in the men’s 50m rifle prone competition, not only qualifying with a perfect score of 600 but hitting nothing but bullseyes in the final to nail a world record score of 705.5.
His winning margin of 4.3 points was huge in this normally tight event, and silver medallist Lionel Cox (Belgium) might almost have expected to win with his score. Slovenia’s Rajmond Debevec won bronze.
Bronze medal winner from the Beijing Olympics, Warren Potent, blamed a slow start for falling short of the finals. He shot 591, four short of a potential finals berth, and was miffed as the felt he shot well but just wasn’t scoring.
Fellow Australian Dane Sampson scored 583 on his Olympic debut, while Kiwi Ryan Taylor finished ahead of both Australians, shooting 592 for 25th place.
Women’s rifle record falls
Jamie Gray set new Olympic records in qualifying and the finals of the women’s 50m rifle prone, taking a grand total of 691.9 points to beat Ivana Maksimovic (Serbia) and Adela Sykorova (Czech).
“I was on top of it today, it was just awesome,” the American said.
Robyn Van Nus was the best Australian, falling 13 short of a potential finals score with 570, while teenager Alethea Sedgman did not start in the event.
Cuba’s rapid-fire surprise
Despite three previous Olympic appearances, Leuris Pupo wasn’t expected to take gold in the mens’ rapid fire pistol event, but the Cuban took over when Russia’s Alexei Klimov suddenly lost his aim in the finals.
Klimov had been the favourite to win after setting a qualifying record of 592 and then hitting five out of five as the finals got under way, but then it went pear-shaped for him. He slipped to fourth in the end while Pupo shot three consecutive fives and then stayed on top to take gold.
Indian Vijay Kumar was second and China’s Ding Feng third. Aussie David Chapman couldn’t find the form he needed to be competitive, shooting 559, when below the 583 needed for a chance at the finals.
Second gold for Jin
Korea’s Jin Jongoh not only staged a massive comeback to win his second gold medal of the 2012 Games but retained his 50m pistol crown in the process.
He’d qualified with 592, seven short of fellow Korean Choi Young, and had pretty much given up any hope of taking gold.
“I knew if I won it would be the second time that I had won this Olympic title, but I did not imagine I could do it,” he said.
But do it he did, in a final that came right down to the last shot. Choi still led by 1.6 when as squeezed off his last round but he scored a low 8.1 while Jin showed true champion’s form under pressure to zero in on a 10.2 and a neat 100.0 for the final.
Wang Zhiwei of China won bronze.
Australian Daniel Repacholi performed very well, qualifying 19th with 557, just two shy of a getting into a shoot-off for a finals spot.