In Doha the Chinese team showed particularly good shape a few months before the Paris Olympic Games, especially in the women's pistol events, winning 8 medals with very young athletes. Germany is strong in men's pistol in particular, with 4 medals, and Italy in clay target shooting had as many as 8 finishers and won 5 medals, with the addition of Paolo Monna's silver in the 10m air pistol.
The return of the Crystal Cup
The competition that awards the crystal cups of the 12 individual Olympic events was back into the ISSF calendar after four years, thanks to the "new era" inaugurated by President Luciano Rossi, who was elected a year ago. The best female and male sport shooters from 41 countries around the world competed at the Lusaill shooting complex in Doha, Qatar, in what has always been a shooting sports classic, second only to the World Cup and continental events. In fact, a maximum of 17 athletes take part in each scheduled competition: the 3 World Championship medalists, the top 12 shooters from each individual world ranking, and 2 wild cards chosen by the local organizing committee.
The headlines belong to Egypt, which placed fifth in the medal standings thanks to the two Mehelba brothers: Azmy silver in the Skeet after a memorable playoff on the 26th clay pigeon with Denmark's Emil Kjelgaard Petersen, and Abdel-Aziz, gold in Trap on the last clay pigeon over Italy's Daniele Resca.
Italy to be applauded in all skeet events: five times on the podium with Silvana Stanco – gold in Trap – Katia Di Marziantonio and Daniele Resca, silver in Skeet and Trap respectively, bronze for Jessica Rossi and Elia Sdruccioli, in Trap and Skeet respectively.
Chinese and Germans on the podium, India's first time
An all-Chinese and very young podium in the women's 10m air pistol: Xue Li (244.7), leading from qualification with 581 points, started with some difficulty in the first 10 shots of the final, but then caught up with 19-year-old Nan Zhao (243.6) and world champion Ranxin Jiang (223.4). Zhao also won bronze in the 25m pistol, a specialty won 37 to 31 by fellow 21-year-old Sixuan Feng leading from record qualifying (295+295), over 28-year-old German and Baku 2023 world champion Doreen Vennekamp.
In the other pistol events Europe still had its say. Germany's Robin Walter won the 10m air pistol match by three points (243.3) over Italy's Paolo Monna, leading in the qualification with 586 (240.0), third is Latvia's Emils Vasermanis (220.3). Another German victory in the Automatic Pistol, thanks to 23-year-old fast-rising Florian Peter.
After winning the qualification, the German started without mistakes in the first 4 series and managed to hold firmly on the experienced Chinese Baku world champion Yuehong Li (35 to 33).
German Peter has a habit of marking scores, time of the first shot and personal notes in a notebook and this helps him to analyze and improve his performance. Third was 21-year-old up-and-comer Anish Anish, the first Indian in history to medal in the discipline.
Duestad, the Rifle Queen
Still plenty of Europe in the rifle event and one name above all: that of Norwegian Jeanette Hegg Duestad. The 24-year-old first in the world rankings is also strong in the 300-meter specialty, but in Doha she won gold in the 50m 3-position and bronze in the 10m rifle. At 50 meters she finished with 464.8 points after establishing a lead in both the opening kneeling and prone phases, finishing in the standing phase with 4.2 points over her teammate Jenny Stene. Third was Germany's Lisa Mueller. In the 10-meter event, Duestad qualified with the lowest score, but then distinguished herself with a run-up competition that led her to bronze.
Twenty-year-old Zhilin Wang of China, who won the qualification instead, had to bow down to 28-year-old Aneta Stankiewicz of Poland, in the most important victory of her career, thanks to a 10.9, three 10.8s and four 10.7s in the last 14 rounds. A gripping final in the men's 10m air rifle as well, with an all-European podium: victories for world No. 1, 23-year-old Zalan Pekler of Hungary, who took the lead in the last four rounds, overtaking Serbia's Lazar Kovacevic with 251.2 points and 249.4. Bronze went to 22-year-old European Games bronze medalist Jiri Privratsky of the Czech Republic. In the 50m 3-position event, 12th-ranked same-age French Lucas Bernard Denis Kryzs got the better of 26-year-old Yukun Liu of China by only 2 tenths of a point, 465.2 versus 465.0. Third was 24-year-old Jon-Hermann Hegg of Norway with 451.1 points.
Silvana Stanco is gold in the Olympic Pit
In the six-shooters final of the Women's Olympic Pit, again Europe and above all Italy literally "shone" with Silvana Stanco and Jessica Rossi, lighting up the first ISSF final contested under the artificial light of floodlights. Both Italian women qualified for the event deserved access to the final and, being the seasoned champions they actually are, they set the pace until they both reached the podium. Climbing the top step was 30-year-old Stanco who, with 38/50 to 37/50 ruled Spain's Fatima Galvez, forcing her to the silver medal. Third on the podium was 31-year-old Rossi, the Olympic champion at London 2012, a bronze medalist with a score of 29/40.40.
Also at night was the men's Trap final, with Egypt's Abdel Aziz Mehelba (34) battling for gold and silver with 37-year-old Daniele Resca: only the Italian's mistake on the last clay pigeon gave Mehelba the Crystal Cup with 46/50 against 45. The shooter from Bologna said that the competition reminded him of the night matches at an old Bologna shooting range, where he learned all the "tricks" of the trade. Third place went to 27-year-old Briton Nathan Hales.
Victory for 30-year-old Kazakhstan's Asem Orynbay in the women's Skeet: at the end of a balanced competition, she overcame 28-year-old Italian Chiara Di Marziantonio by just one clay pigeon, 51/50: both women got on the podium of the World Cup Final for the first time in their careers. Third is 28-year-old Dania Jo Vizzi from the USA, with 41/50, second in the world ranking.
It is worth mentioning again the 26-clay pigeon playoff of the men's Skeet final that became necessary to award 25-year-old Emil Kjelgaard Petersen of Denmark the gold with 56/60 (+26) and the Egyptian Azmy Mehelba, the 2022 World Champion and third in ranking, the silver with 56/60 (+25). Third again was an Italian, 25-year-old Elia Sdruccioli, with a score of 46/50.