Olympics: Campriani hits Rio target as big names miss out

Niccolo Campriani of Italy flanked by Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine (left)  and Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia at the victory ceremony for the Men's 10m Air Rifle event.
Niccolo Campriani of Italy flanked by Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine (left) and Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia at the victory ceremony for the Men's 10m Air Rifle event.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Italian Niccolo Campriani, silver medallist in London 2012, went one better on Monday when claiming gold in the men's 10m air rifle at the Rio Olympics.

Campriani got the better of Ukraine's Serhiy Kulish, with Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia in bronze at the Deodoro shooting range.

Italy's third gold of the Games put them level with powerhouses the United States, China and Australia at the top of the early medals table.

The shaven-headed Campriani's luck was finally in at the third attempt in the Olympic 10m air rifle after his second in London and 12th in Beijing.

The 2012 world shooter of the year began slowly, leaping into the lead with five shots of the indoor final remaining.

He nailed the title by 1.5 points with a 10.7 score, only a pencil dot off a perfect hit.

The 28-year-old Florence-born winner unites for a formidable double act with his girlfriend Petra Zublasing, the couple bagging mixed team 10m air rifle gold at last year's inaugural European Games in Baku.

Abhinav Bindra, who captured India's first and so far only individual Olympic gold medal in the event in Beijing in 2008, just missed out on a podium finish in fourth.

Among those who failed to match Campriani's pinpoint accuracy and steady hand in Deodoro were Hungary's world record holder Peter Sidi, who finished fifth.

There were two star acts missing from the eight-shooter final, London 2012 champion Alin George Moldoveanu and Cao Yifei.

Moldoveanu misfired badly in qualifying, Romania's deposed Olympic titleholder crashing out of contention when trailing in 19th.

And China's Cao, the world champion, had his hopes dashed with a wayward final shot which left him slipping out of the short list to ninth.

There were no such problems for Campriani, who topped the qualifying table and continued his dashing form to land gold.