Bundaberg shooter Christopher Pitt was pipped for the bronze medal in the Mixed P3 25m Pistol SH1 event at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro overnight. Pitt was edged out by South Korea’s Ju Hee Lee 7-3 in the shoot-off for third place. Xing Huang, of China, won his first Paralympic gold medal on his debut appearance at the Games by beating Joackim Norberg, of Sweden, 7-5.
It was a gallant effort by Pitt, who made a gritty comeback to reach the bronze stage. The 51-year-old carer was way back in 24th position after the Precision stage but recovered in the Rapid stage to earn seventh spot, the second last berth on offer to qualify for the final. “It was a match of mixed emotions,” he told reporters after the event. “The precision stage of the match was shocking, I was really down in the dumps after that...Then I had a good start to the fast shooting, fell to pieces in the middle, and came home good. I’m just elated that I made the final.”
In the final, Pitt was equal fourth with Ukraine’s Oleksii Denysiuk, after regular shooting. The pair then went into two rounds of five shots apiece. “I was nervous but just concentrating on the process,” Pitt said. “I wasn’t happy with how I shot the process but it was very exciting and I was just over the moon to get to the medal round.”
Pitt said before going to Rio that his intent was to make a final. “To come away with fourth, it was so close, but it is still awesome,” he said. “It is frustrating because I can shoot much better but as my coach says ‘it is the Games and everyone goes through the same feelings’...There’s a lot of shooters just crash under pressure, I don’t handle pressure that well but to get to where I did, I must have done something right.”
Pitt’s Paralympics are now over, as he also took part in the men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1, finishing 14th. However, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is something on the horizon for Pitt to contemplate. “It almost feels like I’ve finished my apprenticeship and I can compete with the guys now, so hopefully that will just give my mind a bit of a kick start and learn to accept that I can do it and strive for bigger and better things,” he said.
The bronze medal for Ju Hee Lee meant that he picked up his second medal in Rio. He also took away a silver in the men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 earlier in the week to add to the three medals he has collected at previous Paralympic Games.
Gold medallist Huang was delighted with his achievement. The 30-year-old performed solidly, wrapping up one qualifying event and finishing third in the other. Huang then came second in the semi-finals before seeing off Swede Norberg in the gold medal showdown. “It is my first Paralympic Games and first medal and I am very happy and very excited,” said Huang. “I have completed my goal and achieved my dream come true. It’s an honour to win for China.”
Norberg proved to be a tricky adversary as he led 2-0 after the first series and 4-2 after the third, before Huang eventually gained the ascendancy with five points in the final three series to Norberg’s one.
No Australians are expected to participate in the men’s R7 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1 event, which will be contested today.