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Sanderson's Medal Hopes Dashed in Rapid-Fire Pistol

For a lesson in grace in defeat, we present to you American Keith Sanderson, who entered today's final in the men's 25-meter rapid-fire pistol in first place -- following a Olympic-record performance of 583 points in the qualifying round -- but dropped to fifth after a disappointing ending at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall. Gold went to Oleksandr Petriv of the Ukraine. But in confronting his loss with honestly and humor, Sanderson deserves some credit. Here is some of what he said afterwards:

"I shot just horrible. That was my first time going into a world final in first place. You try to prepare for it mentally and stuff, but there's really nothing you can do other than the [having] the experience of it."

(What was the biggest problem?) "I don't know -- there were so many. One of the things [that happens] when you get the adrenaline going [is] your perception of time changes. For instance, I thought I was running late every single string. And then [there is] this incredible fear of having a late shot. And I was a half-second early for half of my strings. And nothing was even close. You get a little bit stronger at times, with the adrenaline rush, so you come up a lot quicker and you overshoot your target a little bit. All those things are dynamic under a pressure situation."

(The Olympic experience?) "Honestly, I've never been to a match before where I can come off the line saying I had fun, especially if I didn't do well. But this time I can really say it was a lot of fun -- to be part of the Olympic experience, to be representing America. I wish I could have represented [it] a little better a few minutes ago. But other than that, it was enjoyable. I can't wait for 2012."

(Losing out on a medal?) I'm just lucky they all hit the target. If you all had seen what I saw [on the target] you'd probably vomit.... There's always the possibility to make up a lot of ground [in the finals]. Or in my case, lose a lot of ground."

(Nerves?) "When I'm in a high-pressure situation, my ears perk up. I have earplugs in [and] earmuffs, and I can [still] hear whispers 30 feet behind me and birds chirping and stuff. My awareness goes way up. I'm trying to rein that in, but it's difficult. [There are] a lot of distractions and sometime it's overwhelming. The biggest thing is you lose control of your fine motor skills. At least this time I was able to fill my magazine without dropping any rounds. Every other final I ever shot in, as I'm filling the magazine I was dropping rounds on the ground, I was so nervous. I didn't do that here, thank God."

By Dave Sheinin  |  August 16, 2008; 12:59 AM ET
Categories:  Shooting  
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Keith sounds like someone who is well-grounded. Unlike some other competitors I've seen.

Posted by: Alan | August 19, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

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