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Alipov wins men's trap gold

Erik Kirschbaum | August 15, 2004 18:51 IST

Russia's Alexei Alipov won the Olympic gold medal in the men's trap shooting competition on Sunday with a near-flawless performance on a windy range carved into a mountain top outside Athens.

The 29-year-old from Moscow scored 149 out of a possible 150, including a perfect 25 in the final round. He also did not miss on four of the five 25-shot rounds of qualifying on Saturday and Sunday morning.

"I was fortunate to have just one miss," said Alipov. "The weather conditions were having a great effect on everyone. We managed to find conditions similar to this in Cyprus and trained there for quite some time before the Olympics. That helped."

Giovanni Pellielo of Italy took the silver medal with 146 points and Australia's Adam Vella the bronze with 145.

Defending champion Michael Diamond of Australia was knocked out in the qualifying round despite the support of a big following of fans from his home country at the Markopoulo range.

Diamond, who won gold in both 1996 and 2000, was only eighth in qualifying, five points behind Alipov.

Alipov, winner of the World Cup in 2004 and 2002, was ninth at the Sydney Olympics.

Undaunted by gusts of hot dry air or a steady stream of low-flying aircraft landing at nearby Athens airport, the burly Russian from the Army Sports Club missed only one trap, or clay pigeon, all weekend and was in a class all by himself.

His scored equalled an Olympic record set by Diamond in 1996.

Alipov flashed a wide smile when he sealed the gold medal with two rounds to go. He had come to Athens openly vowing to win the gold.

"Quite frankly I was expecting to be among the leaders," he said. But he banished thoughts of gold when the shooting began. "I did my best not to think about the possibility I could win. I tried to control my emotions and concentrate on my performance."

American Lance Bade entered the 25-shot final round in a tie for second place with Pellielo, but he faltered with two missed shots near the end that allowed Vella, a plumber from Melbourne, to claim third. Bade finished fifth with 143 points.

"The strong winds blowing here made it very difficult," said Pellielo, who holds the world qualifying record of 125 out of a possible 125 set in 1994 at the world championships that has since been equalled three times.

Vella said he was surprised to win bronze.

"I didn't know where I was," he said. "I got myself into that zone you look for all the time when you're competing. I was looking at the board and I feel a bit stupid actually because I can see the score and I was thinking 'No, this can't be right'."

Diamond, a former liquor store worker, overcame a long legal battle over dismissed assault charges filed by his former girlfriend as well as a separate legal fight when his late nomination knocked another shooter out of the team. (Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin)

Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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