Schumann takes gold

ATHENS, AUG. 21 . Ralf Schumann of Germany, on Saturday, shot into Olympic history when he became the first man to win three gold medals in the 25m rapid-fire pistol event.

The world number one, winner of gold medals in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Games, triumphed over both the opposition and his nerves to secure victory at the Markopuolo Olympic Shooting Centre.

``I felt very good coming into this competition so I was confident,'' he said. ``If you have been winning World Cup events, you know you are in form and I could not deny it!''

He said he was delighted to win gold for a third time, but added that ``the other medals mean just as much to me as this one does.''

Schumann holds the Olympic record for the event also, with his near-perfect total of 698 points scored in 1996, but this was safe from his best efforts on Saturday when he emerged victorious with a total of 694.9 points.

He began the final on level scores with his two main Russian rivals, an edgy situation that required steely nerves in the hall during the final. The top three were all level on 592, but Schumann emerged victorious, adding 102.9 to his qualification total. Bells rang among his cheering fans when he received his medal.

This was enough to put him ahead of Russian Sergei Poliakov, the 2003 European champion, but appearing in his first Olympic final. He took the silver medal with 692.7.

Defending Olympic champion Sergei Alifirenko, 45, finished third to take bronze with 692.3 points. — Reuters