Li earns dramatic women’s 10m air pistol win at Doha World Cup final after Walter claims opening men’s title

Li Xue earned dramatic victory to lead a Chineseclean sweep in the women’s 10m air pistol event on day one of the International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) World Cup final in Doha.

Earlier at the world-class Lusail Shooting Range Germany’s 24-year-old European Games champion Robin Walter won the opening event of the men’s 10m air pistol in a style that promised much for next year’s Paris Olympics.

Li, 23trailed her 19-year-old compatriot Zhao Nan by 0.2 points before the pair fired their two concluding shots – and she moved ahead by 0.4 points after her opening 10.3 had been swiftly followed by a relatively disappointing 9.7 from her younger rival.

Li, who won world bronze in Baku earlier this year, rounded off nervelessly, shooting marginally earlier than her opponent and scoring 10.8, just 0.1 short of perfection.

Zhao improved with a final 10.1, but gold was comfortably Li’s with a total of 244.7 as the teenager finished with 243.6.

In the penultimate round of shooting China’s world champion and world No.2 Jiang Ranxin had had to settle for bronze, 0.2 points adrift of the leading pair.

Asked by ISSF TV if she had thought she was destined for silver rather than gold as she shaped up for her penultimate effort, Li responded: “Just don’t be afraid! I didn’t think too much about the result, I just tried my best.”

Zhao, who will also compete in the women’s 25m pistol event, commented: “I am really excited – this was a surprise for me.

Jiang added: “My two team-mates are so good – so no matter who got the medals I was happy about it.

The woman who came closest to frustrating China’s 1-2-3 finish was Serbia’s 36-year-old Zorana Arunovicthe 2010 world champion and two-times European Games gold medallist, who finished fourth with a rueful smile.

That contrasted with the downcast reaction of the previous athlete to be eliminated, France’s Camille Jedrzejeski, who held bronze-medal position before shots of 9.5 and 9.8 dropped her to fifth place.

Walter, who added European Championship silver this year to the gold he won in 2022, secured his place atop another podium after a qualifying competition from which all three of this year’s World Championship medallists failed to emerge.

Silver went to Italy’s 25-year-old world No.3 Paolo Monna, the highest-ranked shooter in the final, with Latvia’s Emils Vasermanis earning bronze.

Walter and Ismail Keles, the Turkish shooter who ran him so close at this year’s European Games in Poland, had qualified with 585 points, placing them respectively third and fourth.

The top qualification position on 586 had gone to Monnawith Latvia’s Lauris Strautmanis scoring the same total.

VasermanisSlovakia’s 39-year-old Juraj Tuzinsky, Maldini and Kazakhstan’s Valeriy Rakhimzansecured the last four final places on 582 points, one ahead of India’s Sarabjot Singh, world silver medallist Damir Mikec and Uzbekistan’s Vladimir Svechnikov.

China’s gold medallist Zhang Bowen finished 13thout of the 16 after totalling 575 points, and Bulgaria’s world bronze medallist Kiril Kirov was 15th on 570. 

Walter, world-ranked sixth, began the final nervously with an opening score of 9.2 but grew in composure as he topped the first competition stage and remained ahead throughout the second stage elimination rounds.

Tuzinsky, seeking a first World Cup final medal, made a final bid to make the top three with a score of 10.2,  but 9.9 was enough to see Latvia’s Emils Vasermanis through along with Walter and Monna.

Despite being unable to make up a gap of 1.2 points to Monna in silver-medal position, Vasermanis strode back to his waiting coach punching both fists into the air after securing bronze.

Walter held a 1.6 points lead over his Italian rival as he approached his two final shots of the competition.

With the applause rising in the lofty arena, Monna trimmed the gap to 1.4 as he scored 9.9 with his penultimate effort to Walter’s 9.7.

But the German shooter secured the title in style as, a fraction of a second after Monna’s head had dropped following a last effort of 9.9, he shot an almost perfect 9.8 to finish on 243.3 points, with the Italian on 240.00.

“I am very happy, but a little bit tired,” Walter told ISSF TV with a faint smile.

“The competition in the morning was very early.

“But this is a really good moment for me.

“Now I will take a little bit of time to relax, and next year will be the European Championships – and then maybe Paris!”

Monna, whose team-mate Federico Maldini finished sixth, echoed Walter’s aspirations for 2024.

“I am very happy for this silver,” he said. “The goal now is Paris 2024.”

Competition continues tomorrow at the Lusail Shooting Arena with the men’s and women’s 10m air rifle finals.

Find all the Doha 2023 World Cup coverage at ISSF - International Shooting Sport Federation - YouTube



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