Sanderson Experiences the Agony of Defeat For years the knock against the U.S. shooting team was that it didn’t do well in finals competition, in which a shoot-off is held after the normal course of fire. Unfortunately for Keith Sanderson of San Antonio, TX, that knock had a ring of truth to it. After the first day of competition, Sanders—the lone U.S. entrant in the event—was in third place with a 289 out of 300. On day two, he fired an outstanding 294 for an Olympic record 593 aggregate and found himself in first place with a two-point lead over his nearest competitor. But a medal wasn’t in the cards. A procession of 9s and low 10s, plus an 8.1 (in the finals, each scoring ring is divided into tenths; a center 10 can score up to 10.9 points) in the 20-shot, six-man final gave him a 776.6 and dropped him into fifth place.
Oleksander Pitriv of Ukraine, who’d gone into the finals in fourth place with a 580, shot a 200.2 in the final to catapult himself to the gold medal. The dynamic German duo of Ralf Schumann and Christian Reitz came from the bottom two spots to take silver and bronze, respectively, with finals scores of 200.5 and 200.3. Eighteen athletes competed in the rapid-fire qualifier, the top six making it into the finals.
What to watch for: “This is a very intensive event,” U.S. pistol coach Sergey Luzov says. In slow-fire events, if you shoot a bad shot or are having problems with your concentration, you have time to deal with it. In rapid-fire, you have just a minute or two between strings to relax, deal with the anxiety, get prepared then–boom! you go for it. If something goes wrong in a string, there’s no time to deal with it. And one lapse could put you out of contention.” The Germans are the ones to watch. Ralf Schumann, 45, who holds the Olympic record, just had his world record (with final) broken by 21-year-old teammate Christian Reitz at a recent World Cup in Milan. “At some events, everybody looks at the Germans and says, ‘Okay, who gets the bronze?’” The Russians contend here as well, and so the Chinese, but Luzov says the latter are not as consistent in this event as they are in others. “Keith [Sanderson] is fully capable of getting to the podium,” Luzov says. He’s a talented shooter and won a bronze at the Munich World Cup last year, which is a very tough world cup.” RETURN TO MAIN ARTICLE
|Rapid Fire Pistol|
|Gold||Oleksandr Pitriv (UKR)||580||202.2||780.2|
|Silver||Ralf Schumann (GER)||579||200.5||779.5|
|Bronze||Christian Reitz (GER)||579||200.3||779.3|
|4th||Leonid Ekimov (RUS)||581||197.2||778.2|
|5th||Keith Sanderson (USA)||583**||193.6||776.6|
|6th||Roman Bondaruk (UKR)||580||194.7||774.4|