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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: UAE and India win historic shooting medals

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posted on Aug, 17 2004 @ 12:20 PM
ATHENS, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Ahmed al-Maktoum entered the Olympic record books as the first ever medallist from the United Arab Emirates when he blasted to men's double trap shooting gold on Tuesday.

At the same time, Indian army major Rajyavardhan Rathore held his nerve and finished second for that country's first ever individual Olympic silver medal.

China's Zheng Wang collected bronze.

A member of Dubai's ruling al-Maktoum family and a former national squash champion, the UAE shooter's final tally of 189 points equalled the Olympic record set by Australian Mark Russell at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"This is our first medal and it's a gold medal also. We entered Olympic history through the main gate," said UAE National Olympic Committee head Ibrahim Abdulmalik Ahli.

"It could take us to a new vision of UAE sport."

Al-Maktoum's accuracy was astonishing as he blasted into the final with an Olympic qualifying record score of 144 points, six clear of Sweden's Hakan Dahlby.

Al Maktoum set a world record-equalling standard until, with the title effectively in the bag and a comfortable lead to cushion him, his aim wavered.

He missed one target and then more as errors crept in, his achievement seemingly playing on his mind as the competition came to a conclusion with al-Maktoum hugging his coach and wrapped in his national flag.

"For the last 10 shots I would say it didn't matter what the score was," he said. "I was enjoying it without any pressure, it was relaxing."

"It was his day. We couldn't catch him ... he was absolutely far ahead," said Rathore, who entered the final stages in fifth place but closed everything out of his mind to go for the medal.

"If you ask me how it felt, I would say I wouldn't like to go through that again," he said.

"I probably died many, many times out there."

Briton Richard Faulds, the reigning champion, failed to qualify for the final. He managed to score only the 13th equal best tally in the qualifying session at the hilltop Markopoulo shooting centre, with just the top six going through for a shot at the medals on a windy afternoon.

Faulds, who won a dramatic shootoff for gold in Sydney, had been one of Britain's brightest hopes of a medal.


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