By Mary Milliken
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Germany clinched its third Olympic shooting title in as many days on Saturday as police officer Christian Reitz won the gold medal in the 25 meter rapid fire pistol event.
Upon winning his first gold in three Olympics, the 29-year-old Reitz walked across the range to hug fellow officer and training partner Jean Quiquampoix of France, who won the silver after a thrilling shoot-off with bronze medalist Li Yuehong of China.
In the eight rounds of five shots in quick succession, the world-record holding Reitz proved to be a reliably steady shot, never missing more than one target in each round. His win reinforces Germany’s dominance in rapid-fire shooting, with five golds and nine medals, more than any other country.
The 20-year-old Quiquampoix was more of a surprise, coming up through the six finalists after a wobbly start and scoring several perfect rounds of five.
Before stepping up to the podium to receive his gold medal, Reitz, bronze medal in Beijing, went around the front to congratulate the silver and bronze medalists.
“In Beijing 2008, I went in thinking I had no chance because it was a sixth place,” he said.
“This year … I had a great feeling going in, so it was a little bit easier maybe on the mind,” he added.
With their success, the German winners have proven to be a big draw at home on television. Germany’s Henri Junghaenel won gold in 50 meter rifle prone on Friday and Barbara Engleder took gold in the women’s 50 meter rifle three positions on Thursday.
China’s Zhang Fusheng, the 22-year-old world number one started out strong but crumbled midway through in his first Olympics, finishing fourth.
Defending Olympic champion and five-time Olympian Leuris Pupo of Cuba finished fifth.
Reitz becomes the third Olympic champion from Germany in men’s 25 meter rapid fire pistol, a title won three times by Ralf Schumann in 1992, 1996 and 2004.
Asked if he is following the footsteps of Schumann, considered by many to be the greatest rapid fire shooter of all time, Reitz said “maybe we will see in the future”.
Quiquampoix, the first French man to get a medal in a pistol event since 2000, said the silver was a sweet reward, but he aims higher.
“I want to go to Tokyo and win the gold,” he said, setting his sights on the 2020 Games.
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Alison Williams)