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Readying for Rio: Chinese shooter Du Li


08-05-2016 16:03 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Olympics

Athletes never find it easy to return to their sports after retiring, and Du Li is no exception. But the Chinese shooter is in Rio, and ready for her fourth Olympics.

The meticulous markswoman retired in 2012, but could not let go of her desire to head back to the range, and pursue a chance to shoot for a third gold medal.

With a calm disposition and clear mind, Du possesses all the traits common among championship shooters. An impeccable debut on the Olympic stage made her a household name in the sport 12 years ago, as the Chinese riflewoman blasted her way to gold in Athens. But she faces a much bigger challenge at the Rio Games, in the wake of two retirements.

“It is surprising to me that I can participate in another Olympics. I retired after competing at the 2008 Games because I had to. I got married and gave birth to a baby, and after 2012, I think I had fully accepted the idea of retirement,” Du said.

Following her success in the 10-meter air rifle in 2004, Du topped the podium in the 50-meter three-position event at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

But after failing to reach the final in that discipline in London four years later, the Shandong native decided to put her trusty weapon away, only to make one more comeback attempt, with the biggest push to do so coming from her husband, fellow gold medalist Pang Wei.

“He really hoped that we could go to the Olympics together. When I finished the final round of trials, and was about to get the results, he was very nervous. It was almost confirmed that he would go, but I was not sure I would qualify,” Du said.

After announcing her second retirement in 2012, Du did not touch her rifle for two years, but the scrupulous sharpshooter’s comfort with China’s training system quickly renewed her confidence.

Eight months later, following the national trials, she was bound for Brazil, where the 34-year-old will participate in both the 10-meter air rifle, and the 50-meter three-position competition.

“This year I will compete in two different shooting events. As for me, I think it’s unrealistic to go for gold in both events, based on my current competitive situation,” Du said.

Du’s long road back to the Olympics has only made her tougher, and a third gold medal in Rio would be the icing on the cake.

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