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ISSF World Cup Baku 2024: Martin Podhrasky clinches 25m rapid fire pistol gold in dramatic shoot-off

Published at :May 8, 2024 at 5:30 PM
Modified at :May 8, 2024 at 5:30 PM
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(Courtesy : ISSF)

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China’s Wang Xinjie took silver.

The Czech Republic’s Martin Podhrasky earned 25m rapid fire pistol gold at the ISSF World Cup Baku 2024 Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun in Baku after a shoot-off – just as he did to win the Final Olympic Qualifier in Rio last month.

The 40-year-old physician from Prague caught up with China’s early runaway leader, Wang Xinjie, finishing all square at 32-32 before producing a perfect sequence of five hits to win the shoot-off by three. Just what the doctor ordered…

Now heading for a third Olympics having competed at the Beijing 2008 Games and at London 2012, where he missed the final by one place, Podhrasky has earned the first medal of this World Cup for his country.

Wang, meanwhile, has taken the Chinese total to 12 – and for a while it looked as if, in what was only his second international final, he might be troubling the world record of 39 set by his team-mate Li Yuehong in winning the world title on this same range last year.

After missing his first shot, the 27-year-old – who finished fifth at those World Championships and who had only secured the sixth and last final place in qualifying – scored with the next 19 to establish a lead of three over his Czech rival.

But Wang became human again in the fifth series as he missed three of his five shots, with Podhrasky moving to within one hit of him.

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Both shot perfectly in the sixth sequence, but when Wang missed another three targets in the penultimate series a score of four took the Czech athlete into a 29-28 lead.

The drama was not done, however, as Wang rallied in his final effort to score four out of five – one more than Podhrasky – thus triggering the shoot-off.

The Chinese athlete went first – and shook his head wryly after scoring only two out of five. Podhrasky, who had a gentle smile on his face as Wang took up his position, soon had a broad smile after his perfect finale.

Bronze went to France’s hugely consistent Clement Bessaguet, the 2023 ISSF Athlete of the Year, who recovered from three misses in his first sequence to finish clear of Germany’s World Cup Final champion Florian Peter.

The German athlete had reached that point after scoring a perfect five in a shoot-off with China’s world champion, Li, who scored four.

The first athlete out was Peter’s compatriot Oliver Geis.

Podhrasky, with a personal best of 591 that was only two off the 2013 world record set by Germany’s Christian Reitz, and Li, on 589,  had finished respectively first and second in qualifying.

A hugely competitive process had involved 60 athletes, and saw the likes of Reitz, France’s current Olympic champion Jean Quiquampoix and Kazakhstan’s Asian champion Nikita Chiryukin fail to progress.

“Its unbelievable,” Podhrasky told ISSF TV. “To me it’s a very nice result. The shoot-off is the next series, it’s the same as the previous one, but it is a little bit dramatic and I loved this final, I loved this dramatic situation.

“It’s very important for feeling that I have good preparation for the Olympics. And for me it was also important that I scored a personal best in qualification.”

Reflecting upon what was only his second international final – on the same range – Wang responded:

“After last year’s World Championships I worked on some technical issues. So this time I was able to do better than before.”

Asked whether nerves had played a part for him in his second final, he replied:

“During the later part, after the first four series, I did begin to feel a bit nervous as I was lacking experience in a final. I still feel very nervous now!”

Bessaguet, meanwhile, said he was happy with his medal, adding however: “I have worked very hard. But I want more than this medal. I am not happy to finish like this. I started the final with two, so I lost three points and I could not win after. So it is really difficult.”

Asked about how he was now viewing this summer’s home Olympics, he replied with a grin: “I can’t wait to be in Chateauroux. I have three or four competitions before so I will try do my best get to all the finals, and I will train a lot so I will be at my best for the Games.”

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