By Laman Ismayilova
The fifth and final stage of the 2017 ISSF World Cup Series is underway in Gabala.
Nearly 430 shooters from 45 countries compete in Gabala to gain points and qualify for the ISSF World Cup Final scheduled for October in New Delhi.
The opening ceremony took place on June 7, with participation of ISSF Technical Delegate, Peter Underhill and Head of the Gabala Region Executive Committee Sabuhi Abdullayev, issf-sports.org reported.
On the first day of competitions, Serbia’s Stefanovic grabbed the gold after a thrilling duel with China’s Yao.
The 32-year-old Milutin Stefanovic and Yao Yuncong battled for the higher step of the 10m Air Rifle Men podium.
Firing repeatedly inside the 10th ring, the two shooters distanced themselves from the other finalists midway through the final, trading the top and the second position multiple times along the match.
Towards the end of it, a 9.9 fired by Stefanovic against Yao’s 10.7 seemed to deliver the gold to the Chinese 21-year-old. However, in the following 24th and last shot the Serbian closed the gap and matched Yao’s score. In the decisive shoot-off, then Yao fired his second overall shot in the 9th ring, while Stefanovic grabbed the gold medal with a good-enough 10.0.
Hungarian talent Istvan Peni (20) completed the podium, pocketing the bronze medal with 229.4 points after entering the final with the best qualification score, 629.0 points.
People’s Republic of China’s Peng Xinyi claimed the gold in her first World Cup appearance.
The 20-year-old shooter prevailed against her teammate and current number 5 of the World Ranking Shi Mengyao. Singapore’s Jasmine Ser Xiang Wei completed the podium, as she secured her second World Cup medal this season.
A Chinese double closed day 1 of the ISSF World Cup Stage 5 in Gabala, where 20-year-old Peng Xinyi secured the gold medal in her first senior competition ever.
To reach the top of the podium, Peng had to battle with her talented teammate Shi Mengyao (19), gold medalist at this year’s World Cup stage in New Delhi (IND), World Ranking number 5 in this event and also holder of the current World Record.
On her 24th and final shot, Shi fired a 10.4 that matched Peng’s final score of 248.1, after she stayed on top of the table for the whole match.
In the ensuing tie-breaking shoot-off Peng shot first, nailing a 9.9 that Shi couldn’t be able to best and sealing two more medals for the Chinese National Team after the silver pocketed by Yao Yuncong in the men’s 10m Air Rifle event.
The third step of the podium was taken by Singaporean 26-year-old Jasmine Ser Xiang Wei, the 2015 Asian Champion, who pocketed her second World Cup medal this season after the silver she won in the women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event in New Delhi.
Ukraine’s Oleh Omelchuk claimed his fifth men’s 50m Pistol gold medal on June 9.
The Ukrainian 33-year-old shooter entered the final with the highest qualification score, then closing the gap on Turkey’s Yusuf Dikec in the latest stage of the match. Serbia’s Damir Mikec secured the bronze medal.
In the 50m Pistol Men final, Ukraine’s 33-year-old Oleh Omelchuk battled with Turkey’s 44-year-old for the highest step of the podium, finally overtaking his rival in the latest stage of the match. At the end of the 6th series, in fact, Dikec was sitting on a 3.1-points lead over Omelchuk, who then shot four-out-of-six shots into the tenth ring, while Dikec hit a disappointing and costly 7.1 with his third-to-last-shot, losing the lead.
In the final series, then, the Ukrainian managed to maintain the lead, pocketing his fifth World Cup gold medal in this event with 230.4 points, while the Turkish three-time Olympian secured the silver with 228.5.
On the third step of the podium placed Serbia’s 33-year-old Damir Mikec, gold medalist in this event at the Baku 2015 European Games, who pocketed the bronze medal with 205.5 points.
China pocketed medal number 4 and 5 in Gabala, as Lin Yuemei climbed atop the 25m Pistol Women podium alongside her teammate Zhang Jingjing, who won bronze medal.
German shooter Christian Reitz has captured a gold medal at the competition on June 10.
The German 30-year-old pocketed his 22nd overall World Cup medal in Gabala, becoming the 6th most-medaled Pistol athlete in the history of this competition.
France’s Clement Bessaguet and Italy’s Riccardo Mazzetti completed the podium, respectively claiming silver and bronze.
Denmark’s Grimmel climbed on the highest step of the World Cup podium for the fifth time in his career, with Belarus’ Yury Shcherbatsevich taking the silver and Belgium’s Lionel Cox claiming the bronze on June 11.
The 41-year-old Torben Grimmel sealed the top position with a couple of almost-perfect 10.7 in his final series, matching the 249.8 points scored by Japan’s Yamashita Toshikazu at this year’s first World Cup stage in New Delhi (IND).
The shooter battled all along the match with Belarus’ 32-year-old Yury Shcherbatsevich, a three-time Olympian whose only previous World Cup medal dates back to Bangkok (THA) in 2004 on June 11. Today, Shcherbatsevich shot consistently for the whole final, matching Grimmel’s score at the end of the eighth series, but failing to best him in the ninth and conclusive one.
The Belarusian shooter finished with the score of 248.9 points and the silver medal around his neck.
The Olympic silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Belgium’s Lionel Cox (35), took the third step of the podium with 227.9 points, securing his second career World Cup medal after the bronze he won in Changwon (KOR) in 2013.
The 35-year-old prevailed over the Olympic silver medalist at Rio 2016, Russian Federation’s Vitalina Batsarashkina, and the current World Cup Final title holder, Mexico’s Alejandra Zavala Vazquez, who respectively took silver and bronze.
Two-days after qualifying for the final match of a World Cup event, Austria’s Sylvia Steiner bested herself and the 4th place she nailed in the women’s 25m Pistol.
In Air Pistol Women, the 35-year-old Pistol shooter battled for the top positions all along the match, grabbing the lead when there were only two shots left to fire. There, she didn’t let her emotions prevail, hitting a 10.0-10.6 combo that delivered her the gold medal.
At the end of 8th series, the Austrian overtook Russian Federation’s 20-year-old Vitalina Batsarashkina, currently 3rd in the World Ranking, who took silver and finished with 236.1 points against Steiner’s 237.5.
Chine's Yang Wei claimed 3rd gold medal in Gabala. It’s the sixth overall medal for the Chinese National Team, who still leads the provisional medal table of the ISSF World Cup Stage 5 in Gabala (AZE). Japan’s Matsuda Tomoyuki won silver, while Ukraine’s Oleh Omelchuk finished 3rd.
The third one’s the good one for People’s Republic of China’s Pistol shooter Yang Wei, who nailed his best career placement in the men’s 10m Air Pistol final in Gabala, after placing 5th and 54th in the two previous World Cup stages.
The Chinese 31-year-old dominated the second half of the match, building a comfortable lead with a strong 10.3-10.3 combo, and maintaining the top of the table until the final shot. He finished with 240.1 points, claiming the first World Cup medal of his career.
Yang’s medal is the third gold won by the People’s Republic of China in Gabala, along with two silvers and one bronze.
The podium was completed by Ukraine’s 33-year-old Oleh Omelchuk, who claimed bronze with 217.1 points and won his second medal in Gabala, after the gold one he secured in the 50m Pistol Men event.
Despite entering the final with the best qualification score, Ukraine’s Viktor Bankin missed the podium once again, after taking 8th place two days ago in the men’s 50m Pistol final. Competing in his first 10m Air Pistol final match, the 26-year-old shooter placed 4th with 195.3 points, while Serbian 32-year-old Dimitrije Grgic took 5th place with 175.7.
The competitions will end on June 14.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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