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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | SHOOTING

German Marksmen Right On Target

July 26, 1996|Times Wire Services

Germany ended its gold-medal drought as Christian Klees won the 50-meter free rifle prone with a world-record score of 704.8 points. Teammate Ralf Schumann defended his title in the 25-meter rapid fire pistol finals.

Jozef Gonci won the bronze, the first Olympic medal for Slovakia, which declared independence from Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Gonci and his coach, Anton Belak, were surprised by his strong showing.

"If I had finished eighth, I would still be very happy because it is my best [score] and a Slovakian record that I shot," Gonci said.

Belak said Gonci's strongest event is the 50-meter three-position rifle, which will be held Saturday.

No matter, said Belak; Gonci will return to his hometown of Kosice a hero.

"This is a very important day for all Slovak sports," Belak said.

In free rifle prone, athletes lie on their stomachs and shoot .22-caliber rifles at targets 50 meters away. The target's center is smaller than a dime.

Klees did not score lower than a 10.3 in his 10 shots in the finals. His total, including a world record-tying perfect score of 600 in the preliminary round, broke the previous mark of 703.5 by Jens Harskov of Denmark in 1991.

"Germany has had some excellent results but we have not had much luck," Klees said, referring to the dearth of golds for his country.

American Bill Meek of Upland was fifth going into the finals and finished eighth.

Schumann, who holds the world-record score of 699.7 in the rapid fire pistol, scored a lopsided victory with a score of 698, an Olympic record.

In rapid fire pistol, four-time Olympian John McNally of Columbus, Ga., finished in a tie for 12th in the qualifying round and Roger Mar of Seattle was 18th.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MEDALISTS / Shooting

MEN'S 25-METER RAPID FIRE PISTOL

Gold: Ralf Schumann, Germany

Silver: Emil Milev, Bulgaria

Bronze: Vladimir Vokhmyanin, Kazakstan

*

MEN'S 50-METER RIFLE PRONE

Gold: Christian Klees, Germany

Silver: Sergey Bellaev, Kazakstan

Bronze: Jozef Gonci, Slovakia

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