First a gaffe, then gold for German shooter Henri Junghaenel
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) He lost concentration at the worst possible moment. It was only a split second, yet could have cost him a spot in the finals.
Henri Junghaenel told himself that if he made it to finals, he wouldn't let that happen again.
The German shooter got through, then followed through.
Junghaenel repeatedly shot deep into the 10-ring to open the finals Friday and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in men's 50-meter prone rifle.
''I was really mad at myself for that last shot (in qualifying),'' he said. ''I kind of lost focus and pretty much told myself it's a new game. I have a new chance, don't do a stupid shot like that again.''
Junghaenel appeared in good shape toward the end of qualifying, but a final shot of 9.4 jeopardized his chance for the finals. He squeaked through by 0.5 and had four near-perfect 10.8 shots in the finals. He had just one shot below 10, a 9.9 on his 14th shot. South Korea's Kim Jonghyun gained ground late in the final, but Junghaenel hit 10.7 and 10.4 with his final two shots.
Kim won the silver medal and Russian's Kirill Grigoryan took the bronze.
''At the beginning, I was really nervous and I was happy I could make the shots work pretty well,'' Junghaenel said. ''They were really deep and the shakiness went away.''
Junghaenel went into the finals with confidence from two events: Winning the Rio test event in April and Barbara Engleder's gold the day before.
Engleder won Germany's first shooting gold in women's 3-position rifle on Thursday, taking some of the pressure off Junghaenel to break the shooting-medal ice for his country.
''It definitely helped that we were successful already,'' he said.
Junghaenel's journey to the top of the podium took him from Germany to Kentucky to Rio.
He heard about the shooting programs at American universities through a friend and started contacting coaches there. He chose the University of Kentucky after a visit and spent four years shooting for the Wildcats, earning All-America honors each year.
Junghaenel graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2013 and went back to Germany to earn his master's degree, which he completed last month.
''In Europe, we mainly have competitions over the summer time,'' Junghaenel said. ''In the United States, you have competitions in the winter time, so it added up pretty well to gain as much competition experience as possible.''
Kim tied Grigoryan in the bronze-medal round and hit a perfect 10.9 to win a win shoot-off to take silver. Grigoryan hit 9.7 on his final shot to earn bronze.
''I didn't expect to get the silver medal,'' Kim said through an interpreter. ''I had the opportunity for bronze and I took it.''