China, Mongolia Duke It Out in Sport Pistol
As U.S. coach Sergey Lugov predicted, the women's sport pistol event came down to a battle between the Mongolian team and the Chinese. Gundegmaa Otryad of Mongolia set an Olympic record in the qualification round—coming from the middle of the pack after the precision stage, where she fired a 291 out of 300, to drop just a single point in rapid-fire for a 299/300 and a record 590 aggregate. But she couldn't hold onto the lead during the finals as China's Ying Chen turned in an incredibly strong performance to capture the gold.
Otryad entered the 20-shot final three points ahead of Germany's Munkhbayar Dorjsuren and had a commanding five-point lead over Chen, but Chen led off with a 52.5 (in the finals, each scoring ring is divided into tenths; a center 10 can score up to 10.9 points) in the first five-shot string to jump into second place. Two strings later, Chen moved into the top spot—firing a 53.1 and a 52.5 to Otryad's 51.1 and 49—and never relinquished the lead.
Chen's 208.4 mark in the finals and 793.4 overall score stand as Olympic records as this was the first Olympics where the final consisted of 20 shots; formerly it was 10 shots. Otryad finished in second with a 792.2 and Dorjsuren took the bronze with 789.2.
The U.S. contingent of Staff Sgt. Libby Callahan of Columbia, SC, (the oldest athlete at the Games) and Beki Snyder of Grand Junction, CO, were unable to shoot their way into the finals. Callahan placed 25th with a 575 (288 in the precision stage and 287 in the rapid-fire stage) while Snyder came in 28th with the identical aggregate (287 in the precision stage, 288 rapid-fire).
Forty-one athletes competed in the sport pistol event, with the top eight making the finals.
Sport Pistol Shooting has been an Olympic event since 1984.
In 2008 the U.S. Olympians were Rebecca "Beki" Snyder and Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan.
Pistol: Any pistol except single-shot chambered for the .22 Long Rifle weighing less than 1,400 grams (3.09 pounds) with a trigger pull not less than 1,000 grams (35 ounces); compensators, muzzle brakes and similar devices are prohibited. The centerline of the pistol's bore must pass above the web of the hand when the pistol is held in the normal firing position. The rear of the grip or frame that rests on top of the hand between the thumb and the forefinger may not be longer than 30mm. Feinwerkbau is the No. 1 make on the line, with Pardini second.
Range: 25 meters
Scoring: For the precision stage, the target is 500mm (19.69 inches) wide, with scoring rings 1 to 10. The black portion containing rings 7 to 10 is 200mm wide. The 10-ring is 50mm (1.97 inches); the inner-10-ring is 25mm. The rapid-fire target is 500mm (19.69 inches) wide with scoring rings 5 to 10. The 10-ring is 100mm (3.94 inches); the inner-10-ring is 50mm. In finals competition (rapid-fire stage target), the scoring rings are divided into tenths; the maximum value is 10.9.
Course of Fire: 60 shots total. 30 shots are fired in the precision stage, consisting of six five-shot series, each series fired on a single target within five minutes. The gun can be lowered between shots. In the rapid-fire stage (either conducted on the same day or a different day), shooters begin in the ready position, with the pistol lowered 45 degrees, and wait for the start signal, at which point they have three seconds to shoot one shot. They then lower the gun and wait seven seconds for the green light to appear again — at which point they have three seconds to fire the next shot. Each five-shot series is fired on a single target. They fire six five-shot series (30 shots) in this manner.
Finals: The top 8 competitors fire four additional five-shot series (20 shots) of the rapid-fire stage. The top shooter from the qualification round is squadded on point one in range section A, second-best on point two, the third place finisher on point 4 and the fourth-place finisher on point 5 — leaving point three empty. The same placement method is used on range section B for places five through eight.
What to watch for: The Mongolians and the Chinese lead the world in sport pistol. "Sometimes it's Mongolia winning gold and silver, sometimes it's the Chinese," says U.S. pistol coach Sergey Luzov. "If our women are at their very best, they can make it into the finals. But they have to be on top of their game for the whole thing. If they're just a little off, they won't get in."
Past U.S. medalist: Ruby Fox, silver, Los Angeles 1984
Olympic record*: 590, Tao Luna, China, Sydney 2000
with finals*: 688.2 (585+103.2), Maria Grozdeva, Bulgaria, Athens 2004
World record: 594, 2 tied
with finals*: 796.7 (591+205.7), Maria Grozdeva, 2006
*rule change in 2005 changed finals to 20 shots. New Olympic records will be established in this event at Beijing.