Shooter Sergey Richter missed his target of reaching the men's 10-meter air rifle final by just one point on Monday. He finished the preliminary round in ninth place, and looked very disappointed when it was all over. Now the Israeli shooter will try to reach the final of the 50-meter rifle prone competition.
Although rifle shooting is not considered a popular sport and certainly not one of the sexier categories among sports fans in general, the scene inside the Royal Artillery barracks painted a completely different picture. There were huge lines at the entrance and journalists filling the seats in the section alloted to them.
Dozens of shooters were forced to compete in the tournament of their lives inside a roaring facility with band music blaring from outside. Yet despite the problematic atmosphere, the preliminary round was particularly top quality.
Richter adjusted to the level of competition and finished the first session with 99 points on 10 bullets. Things started to go wrong over the next two rounds. It seemed like Richter wasn't focused. Because he rushed his shots he finished the next two sessions with 98 points each.
A disappointed Richter left his rifle and asked the judges for permission to consult with his coach, Guy Starik, between the second and third sessions. He returned to the range after a one-minute talk, took a deep breath and didn't look back. He completed the final three sessions with perfect scores of 100 points each to finish with 595 out of 600 possible points.
His comeback, however, fell short by just a point, and Richter had to swallow the bad news that he was out of the final.
"I feel like crying," Richter said after it was over, "although in general I'm very pleased with what I did at the end."
Richter noted that he did not start off well and only has himself to blame. He explained that he was very excited and did not expect the emotions to take over. He added that all the preparations on Monday morning went well, but when he arrived at the barracks he realized that it was more than he had ever dreamed about. He said he was excited to see so many people and cameras, but didn't think it would make him overemotional.
"The excitement probably undermined me," he said. "When I went to consult with Guy I realized that there was no other way than to finish perfectly. It seems that I already understood that at this stage I was out, so it was easier for me to work."
He said he was leaving with his head held high, and noted that he is not as good at the 50-meter rifle prone, but believes he could still do something.
Starik said it was a sign of maturity that Richter didn't fall apart from the near miss, explaining that there was a time when Richter would not keep it together. Starik, who gave Richter a big hug after the shooter finished, said that when Richter approached him he told his pupil to slow down the pace. "The moment he got into the zone he was perfect," said Starik, adding that he let Richter know he was proud of the way he finished.
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