RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Henri Junghaenel secured Germany’s second gold medal in rifle shooting in as many days by winning the men’s 50 meter rifle prone event on Friday in his Olympic debut.
Having scraped into the finals in the last of eight positions, the 28-year-old who trained at the University of Kentucky established an early lead with several successive 10.8 shots, just shy of the perfect 10.9.
Kim Jonghyun, 31, of South Korea, won his second Olympic silver with a perfect 10.9 shoot-off with Kirill Grigoryan, a 24-year-old who took the bronze, Russia’s first medal in this event.
After prevailing over Kim, Junghaenel raised himself off the ground, under the weight of the stability clothing used in the event, and raised his rifle into the air to celebrate.
Junghaenel finished with a 209.5 in 20 shots, 1.3 points over Kim, but shy of his 2013 world record finals score of 211.2.
After four years of training for the Olympics, Junghaenel said he entered the finals angry about his last “stupid” shot in the qualifying round and had to tell himself to pull it together.
“In the beginning, I was really nervous and was happy I could make the shots still work really well,” he said.
He also said that compatriot Barbara Engleder’s gold medal on Thursday in the women’s 50 meter rifle three positions “took a little bit of pressure off” him.
Junghaenel credits his time at university, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, for much of his success.
“Training conditions are perfect in the United States and I also think it is very helpful to have something besides shooting for your mind,” he said. “The combination between college and shooting, that’s just awesome.”
Germany’s success and places in the finals have helped make the Olympic shooting events some of the most watched on television back home.
“Swimming is at night and we are during the day, so it’s a good TV time,” said Junghaenel.
Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Alison Williams