Final 10m Air Rifle Men
ISSF World Cup Rifle / Pistol · Gabala, AZE
A tie-breaking shoot off for the Gold medal. That’s how the ISSF World Cup Stage 5 in Gabala (AZE) started, as Serbia’s 32-year-old Milutin Stefanovic and People’s Republic of China’s first-time finalist Yao Yuncong battled for the higher step of the 10m Air Rifle Men podium.
Firing repeatedly inside the 10th ring, the two shooters distanced themselves from the other finalists midway through the final, trading the top and the second position multiple times along the match.
Towards the end of it, a 9.9 fired by Stefanovic against Yao’s 10.7 seemed to deliver the Gold to the Chinese 21-year-old. However, in the following 24th and last shot the Serbian closed the gap and matched Yao’s score. In the decisive shoot-off, then Yao fired his second overall shot in the 9th ring, while Stefanovic grabbed the Gold medal with a good-enough 10.0.
The 250.9 they both nailed after 24 shots also allowed them to equal the World Record scored by Russian Federation’s Sergey Kamenskiy (29) less than a month ago in Munich (GER).
“It feels great to be back atop the podium,” said Stefanovic after the award ceremony. “The level of our shooting was pretty high, it’s been pretty high for the whole match. And the fact that we both equalled the World Record is there to prove it.”
“When it comes to shoot-offs, I think that no-experience at all can help you. So I may have been a bit Lucky with my last shot…” he concluded.
Hungarian talent Istvan Peni (20) completed the podium, pocketing the Bronze medal with 229.4 points after entering the final with the best qualification score, 629.0 points. It is the third World Cup Bronze medal for Peni, who also placed third in this event at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (CHN).
Just outside of the medal position placed France’s 22-year-old Alexis Raynaud, who went through some technical problems during the match and eventually landed in 4th place 207.8 points.
Two first-time finalists of the Russian Federation followed Raynaud in 5th and 6th place: Alexander Dryagin (26), ranked 161th in the world prior to this competition, scored 185.3 points and finished 5th, while 23-year-old Evgeny Panchenko placed 6th with 164.7.
The first shooter to be eliminated was first-time finalist in this event Napis Tortunpanich (22) of Thailand, who left the match after shot number 12, placing 8th with 121.8 points. Two shots later he was followed by 35-year-old Omer Akgun, who finished in 7th place with 143.6 after losing a tie-breaking shoot-off against Panchenko.