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Zhu weeps after missing out on gold

Reuters
August 11,2008

Silver winner Zhu Qinan of China close to tears on the podium after the 10-metre air rifle shooting finals.   Photo: AFP

China's Zhu Qinan broke down in tears on the winner's podium on Monday after the favourite in the men's 10 metre air rifle event lost out on a gold medal to India's Abhinav Bindra.

The hot favourite to defend his title in the competition, Zhu stumbled late in the qualification when he had to rush his final shots.

He was still within striking range of gold until the end but lost to Bindra – himself facing the prospect of winning India's first individual Olympic gold – who stormed ahead from fourth place.

"After 2004 my only target was to defend my title in Beijing," Zhu said as his voice quivered. He bowed his head, wiped away his tears and paused for a moment.

"Getting a silver medal is already a very good consolation for me because I really worked hard for it," said Zhu, who admitted he felt enormous pressure to win another gold medal to add to China's tally. "But my luck wasn't good enough."

Zhu, 23, got off to a good start with a perfect 10 on his 40 shots in qualification for a 400. But then he had to rush his final 20 shots to make the 90-minute time limit and ended up with only 597 of a possible 600, one behind Finland's Henri Hakkinen, who later fell to bronze with a poor final shot.

Zhu Qinan is in tears after winning only a silver in the men's 10m air rifle event.   Photo: AFP
Zhu tried to strike a confident pose as he strolled past reporters into the Beijing shooting range hall for the finals. But he clearly looked strained under the home country's enormous expectations.

"I've been through a lot of hardship and shed a lot of tears in the last four years, there have been successes and failures," he said. "After 2004 my only aim has not changed. I had so very much wanted to be a champion at the Beijing Olympics."

Still crying while Bindra looked on impassively to his right as he sipped an energy drink, Zhu added: "In the last two rounds I made several mistakes because I had used up all my physical and mental energy.

"I was under tremendous pressure and at times I felt really agitated. But I tried my best."

Athens gold medallist Du Li also crumbled under the home crowd glare and fled weeping after finishing fifth in the women's 10 metre air rifle – missing out on the chance of winning the Games' first gold medal event for China.

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