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New and old target shooting golds

New names and old faces will hold the key to the shooting gold medals at the Olympic Games.
By Agence France-Presse | PTI, Athens
PUBLISHED ON AUG 12, 2004 04:56 PM IST

New names and old faces will hold the key to the shooting gold medals at the Olympic Games.

In previous years, it's been the tournament where many nations have broken their medal duck.

At the Sydney Games in 2000, it was where Azerbaijan won their first ever gold, where Lithuania claimed only their second and where Kuwait grabbed its first of any description.

Zemfira Meftakhetdinova of Azerbaijan was her nation's first golden performer after taking the inaugural women's Skeet Shooting, falling just one target short of a world record in the process.

Meftakhetdinova, the 1995 world champion and 1993 European champion, shot a perfect 25 in the final after hitting 73 of the 75 targets in the qualifying round.

Her final score of 98 - an inaugural Olympic record - fell just one short of the world record of 99.

"I can't comprehend that I've won," said the ecstatic 37-year-old from Baku.

"It's the point of being an athlete in the Olympic Games. I would've been happy for any medal but this is the main thing in life for an athlete."

Lithuanian shooter Daina Gudzineviciute gave her country only the second gold medal in its history when she won the Trap Shooting.

Gudzineviciute's gold was the first for Lithuania since 1992, when the Baltic state took part in the Olympics as an independent country for the first time.

Discus thrower Romas Ubartas took gold in Barcelona, but he was later disgraced after testing positive for steroids at the world championships in Stuttgart a year later.

Also four years ago, army officer Fehaid Al-Deehani grabbed a first ever Olympic medal for Kuwait when he won the bronze for the men's Double Trap.

China, who look to be the team to beat in Athens having employed their own psychologist in Sydne, won three golds in Sydney but also hold 12 world records, most of them set since the last Games.

Meanwhile, Annette Woodward of Australia - at the age of 57 - is set to become the oldest female competitor in the history of the Games.

"It wasn't my intention to become the oldest in anything. I believe I can inspire a lot of women to go out there and join a pistol club," said Woodward who won two golds at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

One women shooter who is definitely inspired, though not necessarily by shooting, is Nassim Hassanpour, Iran's only female competitor at the Games.

"If the dress code was not an issue, I would have preferred to stick with gymnastics. I've been doing that since the age of three," admitted the 19-year-old Hassanpour.

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