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ISSF World Cup Munich 2024: Lihao Sheng breaks own world record to win gold on opening day

Published at :June 4, 2024 at 11:42 AM
Modified at :June 4, 2024 at 11:43 AM
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(Courtesy : ISSF)

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Lihao Sheng won the silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

China’s 19-year-old Olympic silver medallist Lihao Sheng broke his own 10m air rifle men world record in taking gold on the opening day of finals at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, totalling 254.5 points to add 1.2 to the mark he set at last year’s home Asian Games in Hangzhao.

That flourish was followed by another hugely impressive Chinese performance in the women’s 10m air rifle, where 17-year-old Huang Yuting, who had set a world junior record of 635.5 in qualifying, overtook 16-year-old Hyojin Ban of the Republic of Korea with her final effort to earn gold by the narrowest of margins, 252.7 to 252.6.

The two champions combined at the end of the day to add further gold to the Chinese cause as they won the 10m air rifle mixed team event, beating Norway’s Jeanette Hegg Duestad and Jon-Hermann Hegg 16-4.

There was further medal success for China as their pairing of Han J=== and Du Linshu won their bronze-medal match against Keum Jihyeon and Park Hajun 17-15.

Sheng, (pictured), for whom this was a third World Cup title, became the youngest winner of a shooting sport Olympic medal when he earned silver in this event at the Tokyo 2020 Games when he was 16 years 233 days old.

His prospects of mounting the Olympic podium once more in Paris look exceedingly good after a dominant performance which came less than a month after he had contributed to China’s domination of the Baku World Cup, taking gold ahead of his 21-year-old team-mate Du, who finished eighth yesterday.

Lihao Sheng, who set the world and world junior qualifying record of 637.9 at last year’s Baku World Cup, had topped qualifying again in the previous day’s competition, totalling 635.4 to finish 0.3 ahead of India’s Arjun Babuta, who did not proceed to the final as he was competing for ranking points only (RPO).

He maintained momentum in the final, where he was a full point clear of the field after the second competition stage before widening the gap to 3.2 points at the close, with Patrik Jany of Slovakia, European gold medallist in February, taking silver on 251.3.

Seven years after taking up the sport, this young man from Jiansu Province promises to be around the top of his event for decades.

Martin Strempfl of Austria, who came into this event as the world No.1, earned bronze – his first individual World Cup medal – at the age of 39 as he finished ahead of Norway’s Jon-Hermann Hegg, who won the European title in Osijek last week.

Peter Fiori of the United States finished fifth, one place ahead of the Czech Republic’s Jiri Privratsky, with Sheng’s  21-year-old compatriot Du Linshu finishing eighth.

Jany, who was seventh at the Tokyo 2020 Games, told ISSF TV after winning his fifth World Cup medal: “I’m feeling great. I came to Munich only for the air rifle, and I wanted to get to the final and just try to do my best. And it worked out pretty well.

“I saw that I was at a really big disadvantage against the Chinese guy so I know that it was not up to me it was up to him to make a really big mistake. But silver is good.”

Asked how important a medal at the last World Cup before the Olympics was to his confidence, Jany replied: “I am feeling really good before the Olympics. It looks like the training is paying off, so I am on a really good path.”

Strempfl commented after what was his first individual World Cup medal: “It’s great for me in Munich – it’s nearly a home World Cup for me so a lot of Austrian people are here and it’s my first medal so I am really happy.

In a hugely competitive women’s final Huang trailed her fellow teenager Ban – making her first appearance in a senior international final – from the opening to the penultimate stage, going into the round trailing by 0.5 points.

A 10.5 to her opponent’s 10.3 narrowed the gap to 0.3 as the pair stepped up, amid rhythmic clapping, for their final scheduled efforts. Huang’s final effort came up first – 10.6. Ban then scored 10.2, to the crowd’s mingled joy and dismay.

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Speaking of how she had moved from first to second at the end of the final, Ban told ISSF TV: “I lost it in my mind with my final shot of 10.2. But I have trained very hard and I am very happy with this result.”

In the penultimate competition stage Huang’s 22-year-old compatriot Han, the world champion and world record holder, had had to settle for bronze after finishing 0.2 adrift of her younger team-mate.

Fourth place went to Ban’s team-mate Lee Eunseo, who finished one place ahead of 21-year-old Mary Tucker of the United States, who 10m air rifle mixed team silver at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

India’s Ramita Ramita finished sixth, with seventh place going to China’s Fan Xinyi and Norway’s Jeanette Hegg Duestad, who had finished second in qualifying, taking eighth place.

For the home team the women’s world No.1 Anna Janssen could only finish 54th in qualifying.

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