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Kurzer, Hungary's Igaly claim golds

8/19/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Manfred Kurzer faltered in the final
round. Diana Igaly flourished.

They both wound up in the same place: the medal stand.

Igaly, of Hungary, went a perfect 25-for-25 to win the gold medal in skeet
shooting Thursday, finishing with a score of 97 to easily
outdistance Wei Ning of China and Zemfira Meftakhetdinova of
Azerbaijan.

Earlier in the day, Kurzer had the worst final round of any
shooter in 10-meter running target, but his world-record qualifying
score gave the German a lead so big it didn't matter.

"I was never 100 percent sure that I was going to win," Kurzer
said. "From the qualification round I had a six-point advantage,
but I started the final thinking like I had (an) equal score."

But he didn't. Despite Kurzer's final round flop, he captured
the gold medal. Alexander Blinov of Russia, who posted the day's
best final round, took the silver medal while teammate Dimitri
Lykin, the 2002 world champion, won bronze.

Wei beat Meftakhetdinova in a shoot-off for the silver medal in
the women's event, in which the last three world champions made it
to the podium. Meftakhetdinova was the 2001 world champion, Igaly
won the world title in 2002, and Wei won it last year.

Igaly won the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Meftakhetdinova took the gold.

Twelve years after her first Olympic appearance, American Connie Smotek was back, finishing sixth.

Smotek, who turns 40 on Sunday, made her first 11 shots of the
finals but couldn't move into medal position. She finished the
final round 22-for-25 for a total score of 90, seven shots behind
Igaly.

After her final shot, Smotek smiled and walked over to exchange
fist bumps with teammate Kim Rhode, who finished fifth.

Smotek competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, finishing
25th. Back then, women competed against men in skeet. Women's skeet
shooting made its debut at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Smotek, of Bryan, Texas, made the Olympic team by shooting a 488
over the course of two events. Last fall at Colorado Springs,
Colo., Smotek took a three-shot lead over Haley Dunn of Eddyville,
Iowa. In March at Fort Benning, Ga., both Dunn and Smotek shot 229
over three days and were well ahead of the field heading into the
final, where Smotek shot a 24 to earn her trip to Athens.

In Thursday's qualifying round, Smotek shot a 68, finishing
ahead of world record holder Svetlana Demina of Russia and world
No. 2 Maarit Lepomaki of Finland.