RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Italy’s Niccolo Campriani credited a lucky late shot for his gold in Monday’s Olympic men’s 10-metre air rifle after Serihy Kulish of Ukraine made his final shot poorly, widening what had been a razor-thin gap between the two.
Kulish shot first and Campriani, a 28-year-old, three-time Olympian, paused for a breath before taking aim and firing his winning shot as the crowd cheered. It wasn’t a shrewd tactical move, Campriani said.
“That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever done, to not take the shot at the first aiming,” Campriani told reporters. “That was a mistake ... let’s say there was also a little bit of luck.”
Campriani, who won silver at the 2012 London games, established an Olympic record of 630.2 in the qualifying round and his competition score of 206.1 also now qualifies as an Olympic record. There had not been a comparable previous record due to a rule change.
Kulish, 23, was wide of the mark with his final shot, scoring a 204.6 in his second Olympic appearance and took silver.
Russia’s Vladimir Maslennikov, 21, took bronze on his Olympic debut with a score of 184.2.
Abhinav Bindra, 33-year-old who in 2008 became the only individual athlete from India to win gold, took fourth with 163.8 after losing a shoot-off with Kulish after the pair exited the seventh round tied.
A huge, sometimes rowdy, crowd of Indian fans packed into the gallery to cheer Bindra on, proving somewhat of a distraction to his rivals.
“It was just unfortunate. It wasn’t Bindra’s fault, it wasn’t the Indian supporters fault, but the timing was exactly when I was supposed to pull the trigger,” Campriani said.
The noise of the crowd and music piped into the venue was one that Campriani said he had prepared for by recording the final of the women’s rifle shooting on Saturday, and practicing along to that soundtrack.
“You try to forecast as many things as possible,” he said.
“But you’re not in control.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Clare Fallon, and Susanna Twidale