Friendships blossom across borders in the mixed international shooting competition

Teh Xiu Yi (SIN) and Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) had seen each other at international events in the past, but in Nanjing they gained a special connection that they will share forever: a Youth Olympic Games silver medal.

“The next time I see him at a competition we’ll have conversations and something to talk about. He’s a good teammate,” Teh said, smiling at Mohamed, with whom she had just finished second in the mixed international 10m air pistol event.

New connections were also blossoming between gold medallists Lidia Nencheva (BUL) and Vladimir Svechnikov (UZB), who defeated Teh and Mohamed 10-5.

In a party-like atmosphere, with the audience clapping in unison to music, the winners did not hold back. Svechnikov even broke out some dance moves to Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ between shots.

Emotions peaked when Nencheva hit the winning shot and let out a celebratory scream, before disappearing, along with Svechnikov, underneath a swarm of fans, coaches and teammates.

Party time: Lidia Nencheva celebrates winning gold with Vladimir Svechnikov

“This reaction is easy to explain,” Svechnikov said. “When you are the best in the world, it’s incredible, and it’s the normal reaction to be excited.”

The athletes agreed that the mixed-team format also created an added incentive to perform well, not only for themselves and their NOC, but also for their new friend and team-mate.

“This shooting format was very difficult, but we enjoyed it and think it should become part of future events,” Svechnikov said. “It’s a great honour not just for me and my team-mate, but also for my country.”

Teh said: “I just tell myself to focus and do my best. Today I was more focused so I didn’t care so much about the cheering and clapping.”

Agate Rasmane (LAT) and Wilmar Madrid (GUA) won the bronze medal match 10-8 against Chung Ting-Yu (TPE) and Zaven Igityan (ARM).

The party atmosphere was exactly what International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Secretary General Franz Schreiber was hoping to see: “The main aim is to bring the nations and the youth together more in peaceful friendship, so they have a chance to meet each other,” Schreiber said.

“And second is to bring them together in a sporting environment – that we do it together and we have the aim to win, of course. “

Schreiber likened the event’s head-to-head format to a penalty shoot-out in football. “One of the first goals is that we bring the spectators into our sport, and make them a part of it,” he said.

“They are applauding, they are clapping, they are having an immediate reaction, and this is something that our sport needed a little bit.”