Tearful exit for Tao after horror day

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 August, 2004, 12:00am

Chinese head coach Xu Haifeng's decision to include out-of-form shooter Tao Luna in the women's 10-metre air-pistol event backfired when the Sydney Olympic champion finished a disastrous joint 38th yesterday.

Tao had gone into the competition as one of the clear favourites for the gold medal.

But her most recent form had been worrisome for Xu, who contemplated replacing the 30-year-old Olympic gold medallist 24 hours before the competition.

It was a decision he would regret as Tao was simply awful, scoring just 366 points in the qualifying round to finish joint third-last among the 41 shooters.

That score was lower than Hong Kong's Lo Ka-kay, who finished 34th on 371 points.

Only Carmen Malo of Ecuador and Francis Gorrin of Venezuela fared worse than Tao, whose defence of the Olympic title was among the worst in history.

As reporters tried to find answers for Tao's alarming form, the Shanghai native could offer no excuses, bursting into tears moments after knowing her final result.

'I have nothing to say,' said a tearful Tao. 'My loss in form had nothing to do with the conditions here.

'I tried my best for Athens and getting this result is very sad for me. If I could have found the same form I had when I was training, I would have been OK.'

Xu said he was not surprised by Tao's poor performance, saying she was already beginning to show cracks in her form at the start of this year. 'Since we arrived here, I had never seen her shoot well the whole week,'' he said.

'It was so bad. I knew she would not get a good result here...Tao's biggest win was of course winning the gold medal in Sydney, but she has suffered her lowest point now.'