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Vijay Kumar wins men's rapid fire pistol silver at Olympics
LONDON (Reuters) - Leuris Pupo hailed his men's 25 metre rapid fire pistol success as a victory for all of Cuba as he claimed the country's first Olympic gold medal in the sport with a record-equalling total.
The 35-year-old hit 34 of the 40 targets to finish ahead of Vijay Kumar of India (see pics here) in second with 30 in a surprising one-two that made a mockery of the world rankings. Feng Ding of China was third on 27 before being eliminated after 35 shots.
"This is the height of glory for the people of Cuba, for my family and for all those that have helped me get this medal," Pupo told reporters via a translator.
"I still don't believe it, but it is true."
The Cuban, ranked 21 in the world, had shown little emotion as he shook hands and calmly embraced his five rivals after securing victory by matching the finals world record.
But he looked stunned by his achievement, which slowly began to sink in.
"It is a wonderful thing, it is the first time Cuba has won a gold medal (in shooting). They have had bronze three times before but this is the first time," the portly pistol shooter said.
"I thought I was going to get bronze but it got to a point where I realised I was able to get gold so I started to concentrate and made sure I was going to get it.
"It means a lot to me and my family and my wife who is pregnant."
Pupo had showed great consistency in hitting all five targets three times in the eight-round, time-constrained final in which shooters were eliminated as the competition went on.
Having started poorly by hitting three in the opening round, Pupo regained his composure and, after his run of fives, took the lead after the fourth round.
Despite the pressure of leading, Pupo finished with four scores of four to claim victory and had the luxury of watching on with the win assured as Kumar finished his final round.
The many Indian supporters at the Royal Artillery Barracks, though, still cheered loudly as the 26-year-old Kumar completed his round.
The army serviceman threw both hands in the air and pumped his fists as he was welcomed on to the podium to collect India's second shooting medal of the Games.
"It really means a lot, it is my highest achievement to win a medal in an Olympic Games," Kumar told reporters.
"I have lots of medals but that Olympic medal was missing - now it is over." (Click here to see how India fared at London Olympics on day 7)
There was big disappointment for Russian Alexei Klimov who had scored 592 to improve his qualifying world record mark by one but was eliminated in fourth place after hitting 23 of 30 targets.
"So sad, I feel like crying. Four years of hard work I wasted," Klimov, who blamed the lighting in the indoor range, said.
China's world number three Zhang Jian was another to make an early exit, finishing fifth after hitting 17 of 25 targets, while triple Olympic champion Ralf Schumann failed to even make the final.
(Editing by Matt Falloon and Tom Pilcher)
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