Michael Diamond cracked under pressure in the final of men’s trap, missing out on a medal despite qualifying first with a perfect 125 at the London Olympics.
Annoyed with himself for missing two consecutive targets in the last moments of the final, the Australian said he anticipated the 21st target, which made him miss it, and he was so worked up he then missed the next one.
“I was really trying hard to regroup myself but found it a little bit difficult,” he said. “My heart rate was really high.”
Earlier, he’d missed the fourth target of the final, his first no-score of the event, which cost him the one-point advantage he’d earned in qualifying.
Croatia’s Giovanni Cernogoraz shot 24 from 25 in the final, turning what had been a three-shot deficit into an equal lead with Italian Massimo Fabbrizi, and the Croatian then got the better of the Italian in a shoot-off for gold.
Diamond, who’d been the gold-medal favourite after setting a new Olympic record with his qualifying score, was forced to shoot off for bronze against Kuwait’s Fehaid Aldeehani, but he lost that battle, too.
Diamond’s two previous gold medals and five prior Olympic appearances clearly did make it any easier to compete at this level, a fact he admitted.
“I’m very disappointed. I was competing for gold or silver and it’s a blow I didn’t get it.”
The tension of the final was almost palpable.
Olympic debutant Cernogoraz cried after the 25 main shots of the final had been completed, overwhelmed by the knowledge that he’d get gold or silver for certain, and then recovered himself to be dominant in the shoot-off.
“I did not expect to win, I was just hoping to make it to the final,” he said.
Adam Vella, Diamond’s team mate, didn’t make the final but came up the order during the second part of qualifying.
The day before, he’d recorded three rounds of 23, but yesterday found ideal form and shot 25s in both rounds, for a score of 119, only three short of a potential place in the finals. He was 15th overall.
Diamond, now 40 years old, said the fire was still burning for him and he had every intention of shooting for a place at the next Olympics in Rio in 2016.
He is still Australia’s best shooter and a world-class competitor capable of winning gold, and he said he wanted a third Olympic gold medal.
Men’s 3 position rifle
Niccolo Campriani stamped his supremacy on the men’s 3 position rifle event, smashing the qualifying record and setting a new Olympic record for his overall score of 1278.5.
The Italian added gold to the silver medal he won earlier in the Olympics in the 10m air rifle.
He finished miles ahead of second-placed Kim Jonghyun of Korea, who’d managed 1272.5.
If Campriani made the gold look like a walkover, the silver medal was anything but, coming down to the very last shot.
At that point, American Matt Emmons was just in front of Kim but flunked with the worst score of any finals shot, a 7.6.
Kim, however, was calm and squeezed off a 10.4 to relegate Emmons to bronze.
The ever-gracious Emmons shrugged it off in a display of sportsmanship that impressed everyone.
“It’s never over until it’s over,’ he said. “Any time you can be on the podium at the Olympics is a pretty cool thing. After the last shot I looked down and thought, hey, I got bronze, cool.”
Dane Sampson, Australia’s man in the 3 position event, shot a qualifying score of 1151 to finish 37th.
Yesterday’s events were the last shooting matches of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Republic of Korea topped the medal standings, winning three golds and two silvers. Jin Jongoh was the most successful shooter in London, winning two of Korea’s gold medals.
The USA won three golds and a bronze, followed by Italy with two golds and three silvers, while China was only just back in fourth place with two golds and two silvers.
This Olympiad, Australia did not win any shooting medals.