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China earns two more golds and USA's 2008 Olympic Champ Eller comes back atop of the podium at the ISSF World Cup in Gabala
USA's Walton Eller came back atop of an ISSF podium two years after his last victory, at the 2013 World Championship.
Day-4 of the ISSF Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan, saw the Chinese flag risen twice atop of the podium at the men's 50m Pistol and at the women's 25m Pistol finals, and the victory of USA's 2008 Olympic Champion Walton Eller at the men's Double Trap.
The competition day was opened by the 50m Pistol Men event, won by the 2013 Asian Champion Mai Jiajie (27), from the People's Republic of China. Mai, who had never won a world cup stage before, scored 565 points during the qualifications, and then marked 194.7 points in the final to finish atop of the podium.
The Chinese athlete won with over 3 points of advantage on Daehun Park of the Republic of Korea (20) - ranked 10th in the world – who collected today's silver with 191.4 points after qualifying for the final match with 567 points. The Republic of Korea celebrated twice, today, as their second finalist, Kim Cheongyong (18), made it to the third step of podium, collecting his first international medal ever with 169.9 points (and 563 qualification points). Rio 2016 Quota places went to Spain's Pablo Carrera (29), who finished in fifth with 128.5 points, and to India's Prakash Nanjappa (39), 8th with 70.1 points.
At the following 25m Pistol Women event, the 18-year old Chinese finalist Cao Lijia beat Russia's Vitalina Batsarashkina (18) with a net score of 7 to 1 points in the gold medal match, after passing through the semi-final with 18 hits.
“This is a great birthday present. I turned 18 just one month ago, and this medal is the best thing that could happen to me,” Cao said. “I am really happy about this gold, it's my first international victory, and I hope I will get many more in the future. I would like to thank my coach and my team, without them this would not have happened.”
Silver medallist Vitalina Batsarashkina (semi-final: 20 hits, final: 1 point) earned a Rio 2016 Quota place, as the People's Republic of China had already achieved the maximum number of quotas allowed per country in this event. Cao's teammate Zhang Jingjing (26) – the reigning world champion - claimed today's bronze as she beat London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Olena Kostevych of Ukraine (30) by 7 to 3 points. The second Olympic quota up for grabs went to Mongolia's 2013 Asian Champion Munkhzul Tsogbadrakh, who placed in 6th with 13 hits.
The 2008 Olympic champion Walton Eller (33) finished atop of the podium at the men's Double Trap event, beating Great Britain's Steven Scott (30) by 30 to 26 targets in the gold medal match. Scott, the silver medalist, gained an Olympic quota place for his country. The event's second ticket to Rio went to Germany's Michael Goldbrunner (29), who lost to Russia's Vasily Mosin (43) in the bronze medal match.
It took a long time before getting to the medal matches. At the end of the semi-final, five athletes were tied in second place with 29 targets: India's Asab Mohd (27), China's Hu Binyuan (37), plus Eller, Goldbrunner, and Mosin. Hu was the first to leave the shoot-off, taking 6th place after missing just one target in the semi-final's first 15 doubles.
Then the shoot-off split in two: Eller and Goldbrunner fought to enter the gold medal match; Mosin and Mohd, for the bronze medal match. Mosin beat Mohd in the shoot-off (20-19), and Goldbrunner in the bronze medal match (30-29), securing the third spot. Eller beat Goldbrunner (4-3) to join Scott in the gold medal match.Scott, who had hit all of his 30 targets in the semifinal, then missed four and lost to Eller.
"I feel really good," said Eller. "It's been a while since I've been up on the top of the podium, so it's nice to be back." Winning a gold for the first time in the last two years, Eller feels now more optimistic about the Olympics. "Yeah," Eller explained, "it puts me in a great spot for Rio. Hopefully I can just keep doing what I'm doing. I knew I had the ability to win a gold. I've been shooting really great scores in the last two to three years. It's just that sometimes it's tough: you got a lot of great competitors out here. They train just as hard as we do. Well, It's nice to be on top."