PTI | ByErik Kirschbaum (Reuters), Athens
Aug 31, 2004 08:19 PM IST

Thrilling duels between China and Russia fuelled an intriguing battle for supremacy in the shooting arena while costly blunders plagued US efforts to catch the superpowers.

Thrilling duels between China and Russia fuelled an intriguing battle for supremacy in the Olympic shooting arena while costly blunders plagued U.S. efforts to catch the superpowers of the sport.

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When the smoke finally cleared on Sunday after nine days and 17 tests of skill and concentration at the Markopoulo shooting venue, China could claim top honours with four gold medals and nine medals total.

But if the total number of medals is counted Russia had the greater haul with 10 Olympic medals, although only three were gold. The United States, Germany, Italy and South Korea all trailed with three each.


In all, two world records were set and two others equalled. Ten Olympic records were also broken at the indoor and outdoor ranges on a mountaintop outside Athens.

China, which had three golds and nine medals in 2000, clearly want to dominate the medal-rich sport by the time the Olympics land in Beijing -- even though two events will be cut -- and got off to a blazing start with two golds on Day One.

Li Du, a 22-year-old student and daughter of a Chinese police officer, won the very first medal of the Olympics just hours after they opened last Saturday with a come-from-behind victory in the 10-metre air rifle on the last shot over Russian veteran Lioubov Galkina.

Only hours later, China's Wang Yifu did exactly the same thing in the 10-metre air pistol to Russian marksman Mikhail Nestruev, beating him on the last shot and setting an Olympic final round record in the process.

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