As the defending champion, Hoang Xuan Vinh hardly had a chance to defend the medal in the men’s 10m air pistol event at the Tokyo Olympics.
Xuan Vinh still owns Vietnam’s only gold medal in Olympic history, when he defeated the host gunner Felipe Almeida Wu in the decisive shootout with a score of 10.7 at Rio 2016. After five years, Xuan Vinh has won fell from number one to number 38 in the world before entering what could be the last Olympics of his career.
Xuan Vinh came to the 2021 Olympics in the form of an invitation, after he could not win a place in the qualifying rounds. The 47-year-old gunner is also the only representative of Vietnamese shooting in Tokyo, and is in the group of 31 athletes participating in the men’s 10m air pistol event.
In Rio 2016, Xuan Vinh was not highly appreciated but unexpectedly ranked fourth in the qualifying round with 581 points through 60 shots, with 18 hits in the heart (581-18x). At that time, the gunner who shoots 580 points will be in the top 8 to enter the final. In the final, Xuan Vinh went straight to the championship. After that, he also won another silver medal of 50m slow-fire pistol.
Xuan Vinh’s achievements have gradually declined since his victory in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, his best was 581-24x in the World Cup in New Delhi – topping the qualifying round. In the final, Xuan Vinh finished second and won a silver medal.
By 2018, Xuan Vinh reached 579 points in the Asiad, making him stop immediately in the qualifying round. ADC Hanoi was also eliminated early in three stages of the World Cup, with the highest position being only 15. By the end of the year, Army ADC attended the world tournament in Changwon, Korea. He improved his record to 580-17x, but also only placed 10th and did not make it to the final.
2019 is considered an important year for Xuan Vinh, when the world cup or Asian tournament also means Olympic qualifying. However, Xuan Vinh did not once reach the final. His highest was 581-21x in Beijing, but it was only enough to finish 12th. The eighth-placed ADC to reach the final then shot 582-23x.
Xuan Vinh’s average score in 13 international tournaments (SEA Games, Asia, Asiad, world and World Cup) since 2016 is 575.69 – much lower than the Olympic level. Xuan Vinh’s worst performance was 564 points in the 2019 Rio World Cup, making him only 74th.
Xuan Vinh’s achievements have declined compared to the 2016 Olympics, but it is undeniable that the level of the shooters has increased. The average age of the eight finalists in the 2016 Olympics is 34.4. But, the top 3 in the world in 2021 are all ADCs aged 32 and under.
Three of the four stages of the 2019 World Cup require the ADC to shoot at least 582 points to reach the final. This achievement Xuan Vinh has not done for many years, even at the 2016 Olympics.
The chance for Xuan Vinh to reach the final at the 2021 Olympics is very slim, even he has to work harder than when he won the Olympic gold medal. But, if you get to the final and the spirit is excited, maybe Xuan Vinh can surprise everyone.
Xuan Vinh will compete in the qualifying round and final of the men’s 10m air pistol on July 24 – the day after the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Each gunner fires 60 rounds of 4.5mm diameter bullets, each reloading one bullet. The gunners shot for an hour and 15 minutes, selecting eight high scorers into the final. If the gunners have the same score, the number of hits to hit the center will be counted to rank.
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