Pupo Claims Cuba ‘s First-Ever Shooting Gold at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

If you’re going to win the first major championship of your career, might as well win it at the Olympics…

That’s exactly what Leuris Pupo did at the 2012 Olympic Games on Friday.

Leuris Pupo

The 35-year-old Cuban shooter scored 34 shots in the final to clinch the gold medal in the 25-meter rapid fire pistol at the London Games, giving Cuba its first shooting gold medal at an Olympics.

Pupo, who beat silver medalist Vijay Kumar of India by four shots, was competing in his fourth Olympics. He’d previously finished ninth, eighth and seventh.

“I can’t believe it, but it’s true,” said Pupo, whose only previous victory was at a World Cup event in Buenos Aires in 1998. “This is the height of glory for the people in Cuba.”

Leuris Pupo

Pupo, who said the win meant a lot for his family because his wife is pregnant, said his mindset changed in the final as he went slightly ahead of the field.

“There were a lot of things going on in my mind,” Pupo said. “First I was thinking about bronze. Then I started thinking I could win it.”

Pupo reached the final in third position after Alexei Klimov of Russia set a world record in qualification with 592 points, a total that beat his own mark from 2006 by one point.

The world record gave Klimov no advantage for the final. All competitors started from zero under the new Olympic format, eight series in which each shooter fires five shots within four seconds.

From the fourth series, the lowest-scoring competitor is eliminated from the competition. Scoring is hit-or-miss, with any score above 9.6 counting as a hit.