Aussie pair Lalita and Elena fall short in Pistol event

There was no joy for Australian hopefuls Lalita Yauhleuskaya and Elena Galiabovitch, who both finished well off the pace in the women’s 25m Pistol event at the Rio Olympics. Yauhleuskaya claimed 14th spot after the Precision and Rapid rounds, while Galiabovitch also failed to qualify for the medal action after ending in 31st position. The outcome was a disappointment for the pair, who each had ambitions of making an impact after their selection for the sporting spectacular.

Born in Belarus, Galiabovitch moved to Australia when she was four and has grown up in Melbourne. The 26-year-old is coached by her father Vladimir, who is one of the country’s top mentors. Galiabovitch won her first Oceania title in the 25m Pistol event in 2015. She works as a surgical resident at Melbourne’s Monash Health.

The Rio setting would have held no fears for Yauleuskaya, who was making her sixth Olympic Games appearance (fourth for Australia). The former Belarussian pistol shooter automatically qualified for Rio after winning one of the selection events in a benchmark score. Her qualifying tally of 585 had her entertaining hopes of being in medal contention.

Yauleuskaya, 52, made her first Commonwealth Games appearance in 2002 where she won three gold medals for Australia. In total she has won seven gold, a silver and two bronze medals at Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014. But there was no success story this time.

Instead Greece’s Anna Korakaki pipped Germany’s Monika Karsch to have the right to show off the gold medal. In a tense encounter, 20-year-old Korakaki won the first three rounds to race clear 6-0, but the 33-year-old German shooter edged back to claim the next three rounds to level things up.

In the final round, Karsch was awry with two of her first three efforts then Korakaki fluffed her fourth shot, putting real stress on herself to clinch the final shot for gold or face a tie. Korakaki completed the task and was able to celebrate ecstatically with an 8-6 margin. The conclusion sealed the second medal of the Rio meet for the Greek Olympic debutant, as she had taken bronze in the 10m Air Pistol event.

The bronze medal match featured China’s 27-year-old top-ranked Zhang Jingjing and Switzerland’s Heidi Diethelm Gerber, the 47-year-old, who is installed as world number seven in the discipline. Jingjing, who set an Olympic record in qualifications, enjoyed an early lead on the first five shots, but subsequently relinquished it to Gerber who never wavered on her way to the bronze. Gerber retained her composure to finish off the contest 8-4, after late nerves took their toll on Jingjing.

Pistol and shotgun shooting are on the agenda tomorrow, with Australia’s Daniel Repacholi set to compete in the men’s 50m Pistol event, and medal hopeful SSAA member James Willett preparing for the men’s Double Trap.

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