Leuris Pupo wins pistol gold medal
LONDON -- Leuris Pupo earned his first major championship and gave Cuba its first shooting gold medal at an Olympics, winning the 25-meter rapid fire pistol at the London Games on Friday.
Pupo scored 34 shots in the final, beating silver medalist Vijay Kumar of India by four shots. His only previous victory was at a World Cup event in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1998. At the past three Olympics, he finished ninth, eighth and seventh.
"I can't believe it, but it's true," Pupo said. "This is the height of glory for the people in Cuba."
Ding Feng of China won bronze with 27 points.
Pupo said the win meant a lot for his family because his wife is pregnant. He said his mindset changed in the final as he went slightly ahead of the field.
"There were a lot of things going on in my mind," Pupo said. "First I was thinking about bronze. Then I started thinking I could win it."
Pupo reached the final in third position after Alexei Klimov of Russia set a world record in qualification with 592 points, a total that beat his own mark from 2006 by one point.
The world record gave Klimov no advantage for the final. All competitors started from zero under the new Olympic format, eight series in which each shooter fires five shots within four seconds.
From the fourth series, the lowest-scoring competitor is eliminated from the competition. Scoring is hit-or-miss, with any score above 9.6 counting as a hit.
Before the final, Klimov admitted being "a little nervous" but added he was "feeling very positive. New rules mean I must start from scratch."
But he missed five shots total in the third and fourth rounds and could not catch up. He was eliminated after the sixth of the eight series.
Klimov became the second shooter at the London Olympics to set a world record on Friday, after Sergei Martynov of Belarus beat the 12-year-old world record in 50-meter rifle prone by 0.7 point. He won gold with a final score of 705.5 points.
After finishing second in two World Cup events this year, Christian Reitz of Germany was regarded as one of the favorites in 25-meter rapid fire pistol. But he missed four times in his first two series and was the first shooter eliminated in the final.
Fellow German Ralf Schumann, the most decorated shooter in history with three golds and two silvers, shot a 577 in qualification, six points short of the limit.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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