The ISSF World Cup stage in Changwon, Korea, kicked off the 2013 ISSF rifle and pistol series – and also marked the first global event at which the new ISSF finals were used.
The new formats, designed to make shooting a more exciting and spectator-friendly sport, see scores reset to zero after the qualifying phases, and athletes take part in a ‘progressive’ elimination final until only the winner remains.
No fewer than 300 athletes from 30 countries contested the events in Changwon, and the new finals made a difference almost immediately, leveling the playing field in a way that meant success was never assured for any athlete, no matter how towering their reputation.
In the men’s air rifle, Peter Sidi and Niccolo Campriani stretched ahead of the field after qualification – but their advantages that meant nothing and it was in fact Campriani who was the first to exit the ‘progressive elimination’ final.
Sidi made it to the bronze medal position, but it was China’s Tao Wang, who had been third in qualifying, who took the gold, beating Israel’s Sergey Richter in the final shoot-off.
It was a similar story in the women’s air rifle, where Serbia’s Andrea Arsovic set a world record on the way to top spot in qualifying. But she then exited the final in seventh place, leaving a grateful Liuxi Wu to collect the gold.
There was another world record set in the men’s prone rifle, by Germany’s Henri Junghaenel. And there was no deviating from the form books in the final as he kept his blistering performance up to take gold.
The pistol events saw something of a Chinese dominance, as Zhiwei Wang took top honours in the men’s 50m pistol ahead of compatriot Jiajie Mai, and Jie Ren romped home in the women’s air pistol.
Zhiwei Wang was also among the medals in the men’s air pistol, but this time it was a silver as Vietnam’s Xuan Hoang pipped him by 0.7 points.
But perhaps the biggest story of the World Cup came in the women’s 25m pistol, where 22-year-old Indian shooter Rahi Sarnobat won her first ever ISSF gold with a perfect eight shots in the final.
Speaking to the ISSF afterwards, she said her goal was to make shooting more popular than cricket: “How popular is shooting in India? More and more… Shooting is definitely growing in our country.
“Next year I’ll take part in all of the World Cup Stages. I want a quota place for the Olympics.”
Full results are available at www.issf-sports.org.