LONDON (Yonhap) — Pistol shooter Jin Jong-oh captured Korea’s first gold medal at the London Olympics Saturday, taking the men’s 10-meter air pistol event despite some late hiccups.
In the final held at Royal Artillery Barracks, Jin fired 100.2 points. Combined with his qualification score of 588, also tops in the field the 32-year-old took the gold with 688.2 points.
Luca Tesconi of Italy won the silver, after managing 685.8 points in total, with 101.8 points in the final and 584 in qualification. Andrija Zlatic of Serbia was the third-best qualifier after 585, and added 100.2 points in the final to claim the bronze.
Pang Wei of China trailed only Jin after qualification thanks to 586, but the defending gold medalist slipped to fourth in London with 97.7 in the final.
Jin didn’t make it easy on himself on the line. He opened a 4.4-point lead on Pang after the first five shots, but misfired for a 9.3 and then an uncharacteristic 9.0 in his next two shots. Jin had two more shots in the 9s. Pang fell further back with scores in the 9s of his own, but Tesconi crept up with back-to-back 10.7s in his sixth and seventh attempts.
Jin clung to a 1.3-point lead over the Italian with one shot remaining. Moments after Tesconi shot a 9.7, Jin held his ground and fired a 10.8, his highest point in the final.
Jin finished behind Pang for silver in 10? air pistol before winning gold in 50? pistol at the Beijing Games. He’s now the first Korean shooter to win a gold medal in consecutive Olympic Games.
After clinching the gold, Jin said the medal on this day felt “infinitely better” than his 50? pistol title from four years ago.
“I can’t describe in words how happy I am,” he said. “I had such a difficult final and I am relieved it worked out well in the end.”
Jin has some painful memories of collapsing under pressure. At the 2004 Athens Games, he blew his lead with a 6.9 in 50? pistola final, a score virtually unheard of in Olympics featruing only the world’s sharpest shooters. Then four years later, he held on for dear life for the gold despite shooting an 8.2 in his final shot.
“Before taking my last shot today, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to have regrets like I did in Athens and Beijing,” Jin said. “So I concentrated even harder. I will give my all the rest of the Olympics.”
Jin will take aim at his back-to-back Olympic title in 50? pistol on Aug. 5.