Jin Finally Hits Target
For a moment, it looked like Jin Jong-oh's habit for near-misses would cost him yet another Olympic gold Tuesday.
However, the South Korean marksman somehow managed to prevail this time with luck finally shining on his side.
Jin's gold in the men's 50-meter pistol soothes a 16-year itch for the country's shooting athletes, who last won Olympic golds at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, where Lee Eun-cheol and Yeo Kab-soon brought home two.
It also ended a frustrating streak for Jin, who, despite enjoying undisputed status as the country's best sharpshooter, developed a reputation of coming up short in the biggest moments.
Jin finished 1.8 points behind Russia's Mikhail Nestruev to take the silver in the 50m pistol at the Athens Games four years ago and was the runner-up again in this year's 10m air pistol competition held Saturday.
And it would be hard to describe Jin's performance Tuesday as convincing, with a poor final shot nearly conceding the gold to North Korean rival Kim Jong-su.
But, as a man who came close so many times, Jin couldn't care less about how he looked in reaching the top of the podium.
``I have struggled in the earlier rounds of the tournament, shooting a seven and eight in my last attempts and entering the final round placed at sixth, but I think that allowed me to put lesser pressure on myself and keep my composure," said the 29-year-old Jin.
``I felt tension in the final round and my coach (Kim Sun-il) kept telling me to stay calm and don't be overzealous," he said. ``I tried my best to follow his words and ended up with the gold.''
After his silver in Athens, Jin emerged as a world-class marksman, taking both the 10m and 50m crowns at the 2006 Shooting World Cup in Guangzhou, China, which allowed him to top the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) world rankings in both competitions.
However, Jin struggled earlier this year, finishing with just 559 points and 561 points in the 50m in two domestic events held in June and had Korean officials concerned about his chances in Beijing.
In his final attempt Tuesday, Jin scored only 8.2 of a possible 10.9 points, which brought him within reach of Kim and China's Tan Zongliang. However, Tan shot only a 9.2 and Kim shot a 10.5, falling just 0.2 points behind Jin's total of 660.4.
Kim is now developing a habit of finishing behind his South Korean counterpart, taking the 50m pistol bronze in Athens and another bronze in the 10m air pistol on Saturday.
Jin, who was hiding his head in his hands after his blunder, seemed to be in disbelief after learning that he won the gold.