Shamakov hits the target with first Buenos Aires gold

The opening medal contest of Buenos Aires 2018 brings Sarmiento Park alive as Russia’s Grigorii Shamakov emerges on top in a closely fought 10m air rifle final.

Picture by IOC/OIS

The first gold medal of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games went to Russian shooter Grigorii Shamakov when he won the 10m air rifle men’s competition at Sarmiento Park on Sunday. “I didn’t have the best start but I was able to keep calm and improve,” said Shamakov after he claimed gold with a final score of 249.2 points. I had a plan to prepare to win the gold medal and I’m very happy that I have managed to achieve that.”

Shahu Mane (IND) took silver with 247.5, while Aleksa Mitrovic (SRB) won bronze after going agonisingly close to the Indian shooter’s score, with a difference of only 0.1 in the penultimate round. “I feel very proud after winning silver and happy that I started the medal tally for India,” said Mane, who finished 1.7 points behind Shamakov. 

Just as at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and London 2012, the first athletes to stand on the podium were shooters. The significance was not lost on those who missed out on medals. “This feels amazing. Unreal, to be honest,” said an ecstatic Alex Hoberg (AUS), who finished fifth. “This has been my goal for the past three-and-a-half years, so to be here and compete and make the final at this level has been amazing. I have competed against all the athletes but I’m also good friends with four of them.”

Amar Dizdarevic, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a picture of concentration on the shooting range at Sarmiento Park (IOC/OIS)

Shooters took 60 shots each in the qualification round and the best eight progressed to the final, where they started from zero points. The final eight took 12 shots before one athlete was eliminated. Then they took another two shots in each of the following rounds until the final two decided the gold medal. Iran’s Amirsiyavash Zolfagharian was in first place after the initial qualification round, but could not keep up his level of performance and was the first to be eliminated in the final round. 

I had a plan to prepare to win the gold medal and I’m very happy that I have managed to achieve that. Grigorii Shamakov Russian Federation - Grigorii Shamakov Russian Federation

For Carlos Arze Tassara (PER), results were not the most important thing. “I am the youngest of the entire Peruvian contingent and even though I didn’t shoot as well as I would have liked, I’m happy to be competing with so many talented shooters,” he said, after finishing 19th with 599.4pts. Facundo Firmapaz (ARG) finished in 12th place with 616.9 points. “I had a difficult start and that made things complicated, but I’m proud of how I was able to recover and fight back,” he said. “The fact I had my family and friends in the stands felt great and I didn’t feel any extra pressure due to that.”

It was a completely different situation for Arnab Sharar, of Bangladesh, who felt the distance he travelled to Argentina had played a part in his performance. “It is hurtful for me not to reach the final rounds,” said Sharar, who finished just 2.1pts from the eighth place that would have guaranteed him a place in the final. “I felt a bit jet-lagged and it was very difficult to cope with that.”