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Balogh wins gold

Suzanne Balogh

Suzanne Balogh

Australia's Suzanne Balogh won the Olympic women's trap shooting yesterday after battling shifting winds on a mountain-top range outside Athens.

Inspired by a former coach who once said she was "too old and too talentless", Balogh dominated both the final and qualifying rounds despite turbulent winds that sometimes sent the clay pigeons leaping or sinking in unpredictable directions.

"I haven't been shooting well all year and I was hoping we'd have some rain and wind to bring the field back to me," said Balogh, 31. "I'm happy shooting in any weather as long as it's bright."

Maria Quintanal of Spain won the silver medal with 84 points and Lee Bo-na took the bronze medal with 83, narrowly beating 17-year-old American high school student Whitly Loper who was fourth.

Balogh had led after the qualifying round, hitting on 66 of a possible 75 as powerful gusts that knocked over tables and blew down banners at the Markopoulo shooting range kept down scores. She followed with 22 of 25 in the final for a total score of 88.

"A trainer once said I was too old and too talentless," said Balogh, who declined to name the man. "That inspired me."

An agriculture protection officer from New South Wales, Balogh won the double trap world cup in 2001 and finished third at the world cup final in 2001. She was fifth at the 2003 world championships and sixth in 2001.

Her victory was sealed one round before the finish and unleashed roars of joy from the large Australian following who had cheered Adam Vella's bronze medal in the men's trap shooting on Sunday.

"Trap shooting takes skill, patience, adrenalin and spirit," Balogh said when asked why Australians were succeeding in trap events in Athens. "Aussie shooters have the spirit."

Loper, who is naturally right-handed, was born blind in her right eye. The high school junior from Indian Springs, Alabama, taught herself to shoot left-handed.

Loper made a furious rally in the final, hitting the first 13 targets, after starting in fourth position, four behind Balogh. She was in second place and in contention for a silver medal before faltering at the end of the competition.

Germany's Susanne Kiermayer had entered the final round in third place but missed eight targets in the difficult conditions to finish fifth.

China take gold, silver in men's 10m air rifle

China claimed their third gold medal of the Olympic shooting competition yesterday, taking both the gold and silver at the men's 10-metre air rifle competition.

Zhu Qinan won with 702.7 points after dominating the qualifying and final sessions and his compatriot Li Jie got the silver medal with a score of 701.3.

Jozef Gonci of Slovakia won the bronze medal with 697.4 points.

China's Wang Yifu won the men's 10-metres air pistol on Saturday after Du Li had won the first gold medal of the Olympics with a victory in the women's 10-metre air rifle event.

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