NEW DELHI, July 17 (Reuters) - If the presence of five Olympic champions in their ranks is anything to go by, China’s supremacy in pistol and rifle events is unlikely to wane in London.
Since rising to the top of the shooting medal table in Athens 12 years ago, China have cemented their status as a shooting superpower, securing five of the 10 gold medals on offer in the pistol and rifle events in Beijing four years ago.
Four Beijing gold medallists - Du Li (women’s 50m rifle three position), husband Pang Wei (10m air pistol), Guo Wenjun (women’s 10m air pistol) and Chen Ying (women’s 25 metre pistol) - will defend their titles at London’s Royal Artillary Barracks.
They will be joined by Zhu Qinan, who won the 10m air rifle in Athens but had to settle for a silver in Beijing, while Yi Siling, who equalled the 10m air rifle world record for the third time in May, will be expected to deliver China’s first Olympic gold in London.
“The first gold is always difficult to get. However, the pressure is the same with other teams,” head coach Wang Yifu was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
“I hope all our athletes can get their satisfactory result, and the shooters are also trying hard for the goal.”
South Korea’s hopes of a shooting gold will rest on Beijing champion Jing Jong Oh, who signalled he was in form after winning the 50m pistol event at the Munich World Cup in May.
India will pin their hopes on Beijing 10m air rifle champion Abhinav Bindra while Ronjon Sodhi’s consistency makes him a double trap medal contender.
Niccolo Campriani will spearhead Italy’s campaign in London, having won three 50m rifle three positions gold in this year’s World Cup series.
However, no other shooter will have more at stake than American Kim Rhode who is gunning for her fifth successive Olympic medal.
Rhode won the double trap golds in 1996 and 2004 and a bronze in between.
After women’s double trap was discontinued, she moved to skeet and won a silver in Beijing. (editing by Justin Palmer)