Niccolo Campriani, silver medallist in 2012, went one better on Monday as he turned a deaf ear to the raucous crowd to claim the men’s 10m air rifle title at the Rio Olympics.
The Italian kept his cool to beat Ukraine’s Serhiy Kulish, with Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia in bronze at the Deodoro shooting range.
Italy’s third gold of the Games put them level with powerhouses the United States, China and Australia at the top of the early medals table.
Shooting has undergone a revamp since London, and among the changes respectful silence has been replaced by vocal support and music blaring out from loudspeakers.
“It was really tough with all the noise,” said Campriani. “I had to change my natural timing to avoid shooting on the noise.
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“Even if you’re not an expert you could see I was aiming all over the place.
“In this case technique doesn’t count, you just try to take the best possible shot in really tough conditions.
“The emotions are so strong, you try to hold on to a positive thought and don’t let it go.”
The shaven-headed shooter’s luck was finally in at the third attempt in the Olympic 10m air rifle after his second in London and 12th in Beijing.
The 2012 world shooter of the year began slowly, hitting the lead with five shots of the indoor final remaining.
He nailed the title by 1.5 points with a 10.7 score, only a pencil dot off a perfect hit, for a second Olympic gold after winning the 50m rifle three positions in 2012.
The 28-year-old Florence-born winner unites for a formidable double act with his girlfriend Petra Zublasing, after they bagged mixed-team 10m air rifle gold at last year’s inaugural European Games in Baku.
Abhinav Bindra, who captured India’s first and so far only individual Olympic gold medal in the event in Beijing in 2008, just missed out on a podium finish in fourth.
The 21-year-old runner-up Maslennikov, winning Russia’s 400th Olympic medal, revealed he’d been assisted by a previous trip to Brazil.
“My experience in the pre-Olympic World Cup here helped me a lot as I haven’t had that much competition,” he said.
Among those who failed to match Campriani’s pinpoint accuracy and steady hand in Deodoro were Hungary’s world record-holder Peter Sidi, who finished fifth.
There were two star acts missing from the eight-shooter final: London 2012 champion Alin George Moldoveanu, and China’s Cao Yifei.
Romania’s Moldoveanu misfired badly in qualifying and crashed out of contention when trailing in 19th.
And Cao, the world champion, had his hopes dashed with a wayward final shot as he slipped out of the short list to ninth.
There were no such problems for Campriani, who topped the qualifying table and continued his dashing form to land gold.