Slovakian becomes first woman to qualify for London 2012
By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
August 1 - Slovakia's Zuzana Stefecekova has become first woman to book her place in the London 2012 Olympics by winning the gold medal in the trap at the ISSF World Championship in Munich.
The 26-year-old, a silver medallist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, scored a total of 91 to beat China's Liu Yingzi to secure one of the three places available for London.
Stefecekova secured the gold medal after Liu dropped the last target to put herself in second place with a total score of 89 (72+17) targets.
It is the first world title won by Stefecekova, whose previous best was bronze in 2002 and 2003.
The bronze medal and last automatic place in London 2012 was won by Itay's Jessica Rossi, 18, who beat team-mate Deborah Gelisio in a shoot-off.
Italy's Niccolò Campriani had earlier become the first man to qualify for London 2012 when he won the men's 10 metres air rifle.
Others booking their places in London 2012 included China’s Yi Siling, who won the gold medal in the 10m air rifle women's final.
The 21-year-old from Hunan claimed victory over team-mate Wu Liuxi with a world record score of 505.6 points to be crowned world champion and earn one of the six places on offer to London.
It was clear that this was going to be a great day for Yi as in the morning’s qualifications, as she made it to the final with an equalled world record, a perfect score of 400 out of 400 points.
Then, shooting in the lead form the first to the tenth and last shot, she scored 105.6 points more during the final round to set new figures, breaking those established two years ago by Munich's Sonja Pfeilschifter.
It was double disappointment for Pfeilschifter as she failed to make the impact expected and trailed home in 16th place.
“I am surprised that I shot a new world record, this is also my personal best," said Yi after the award ceremony.
"I am really glad that I become the new world champion, and I have to thank all my team for this success."
Wu Liuxi, who had been leading the world ranking throughout the whole 2010 season, finished in second place securing silver with a total score of 501.4points, claiming China’s second Olympic place in this event.
Two quota places also went to Germany, the host country, thanks to Jessica Mager and Beate Gauss.
The two home shooters starting the match in seventh and eighth place with the lower qualification score of 397 points, fought right to the last shot to climb up in fifth and sixth place in order to grab the last two quotas available in this match.
The bronze and the third quota places went to Italy’s Elania Nardelli, a 23-year old from Puglia, who finished on the podium with 501.0 (398+103.0) points beating all the odds.
The young athlete, who scored today her personal best, had never participated in an international final round before, and at the last World Championship, in 2006, she had placed 84th.
"I cannot believe it," she said.
"This is my best competition ever, it is a dream that comes true, and at the same time a starting point for the future."
Mahlagha Jambozorg, 18, became the first Iranian athlete to qualify for the 2012 Games, by ending up in fourth place with 500.2.
Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda (pictured) won the men’s 50m pistol event, making him the first athlete from his country to book a berth at London.
The 34-year-old from Kanagawa collected a total of 669.7 points to earn one of the four quota places on offer.
"After the Beijing Olympics it was my goal to win a berth here," said Matsuda, who finished eighth in the Chinese capital in 2008.
"With two years left before the London Olympics, I want to maintain my pace and aim for a medal."
South Korea’s Lee Daemyung eventually finished in second place, securing the silver medal and the second Olympic quota place to be awarded in this match.
The Bronze went to Kazakhstan’s Vyacheslav Podlesny, who secured the first 2012 Olympic quota place for his country with an odds-defying final round.
The 32-year old shooter, ranked 73 in the world in this event, had never participated in a World Championship before, and his best position in career had been a 42nd place at this year’s World Cup in Fort Benning.
By entering today’s final in second place with 568 points and then finishing on the podium with 662.1 points, he surprised everybody, even himself.
The fourth and last Olympic quota place to be awarded in this match went to Serbia’s Andrija Zlatic, 32.
July 2010: Italian becomes first athlete to qualify for London 2012