(BEIJING, August 12) -- US shooter Walton Eller's first Olympic medal is golden.
"It felt awesome. I've been working at this for God knows how long now. The last two times I finished 17th and 12th, so I'm glad I finally made a final," said the 26-year-old Texan.
All his hard work could be witnessed in the qualification rounds, when he hit 145 targets out of a maximum 150, a new Olympic qualification record. Italian Francesco D Aniello finished the qualification rounds in second place, four points less than Eller. The other four shooters who qualified for the final were US shooter Jeffrey Holguin (140), China's Hu Binyuan (138), Sydney 2000 gold medal winner Richard Faulds of Great Britain (137) and Atlanta 1996 gold medal winner Russell Mark of Australia (136).
The final round saw Eller miss five targets, equal to the amount of targets he missed in the three qualification rounds. After Eller missed the first two targets, his opponents had some hope of victory, but the lanky American recovered and hit a total of 45 targets in the final, a good enough score to set a new Olympic record for the final score. Eller's 190 overtook the 189 targets hit by Ahmed Almaktoum of the United Arab Emirates at Athens 2004.
D Aniello and Hu both hit 46 targets in the final, earning the silver and bronze medals respectively with finals scores of 187 and 184.
Holguin (182), Mark (181) and Faulds (180) finished in the last three places. Mark's path to the final was tumultuous as he needed to win a shoot-off against three other shooters. All four shooters had hit 136 targets in the qualification rounds.
Mark needed to hit six targets in the shoot-off, eventually beating Athens 2004 gold medalist Almaktoum.