By Mary Milliken
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Young Italian Gabriele Rossetti gave his country its third gold medal in Olympic shooting with a perfect score in the men’s skeet event on Saturday.
The compact 21-year-old, a first-time Olympian and police officer, had perfect 16s in the semi-final and final, defeating 26-year-old Marcus Svensson of Sweden, who missed just the final shot.
Crowd favorite Abdullah Al-Rashidi, a Kuwaiti competing under the Olympic flag, won the bronze, his first medal in six Games.
After he beat Mikola Milchev of Ukraine, the 52-year-old Rashidi waved to the crowd as they chanted “Mustache!” in Portuguese and then kissed the ground.
“Some people think we need gold, I don’t need gold,” said Rashidi, as he gave a list of all the championships he has won.
He is the second Kuwaiti competing under the Olympic flag to medal in shooting this week while their country is banned by the International Olympic Committee. Fehaid Aldeehani won gold in the men’s double trap event.
Rossetti, the son of 1992 skeet bronze medalist Bruno Rossetti, went to a shoot-off in qualifying for the semi-final and ousted two French shooters coached by his father.
“I am sorry for the French guys, but that’s how the sport works,” said Rossetti, who often trains with the French shooters, who he considers friends, and his father.
After winning the gold, his coach Andrea Benelli picked up Rossetti while the champion’s father watched from the stands of the Olympic Shooting Centre. Italian fans wrapped him in the tri-color flag.
“The experience the two gave me was a fundamental part of my success,” said Rossetti.
With one event left in the shooting competition, Italy has won a total of six medals, including three in skeet alone, after two Italian women won gold and silver on Friday.
Svensson, a two-time Olympian who finished seventh in London 2012, said these Olympics were his turn, even if he lost in his final shot of the day.
“I am very happy with this silver, the competition was really great,” said Svensson.
American two-time and defending Olympic champion Vincent Hancock did not qualify for the semi-finals and finished 15th. He was vying to become the first shooter to win a specific men’s event at three Olympic Games in a row.
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Susanna Twidale and Meredith Mazzilli)