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Yelavich — seventh Games and gunning for 12th medal!

Rakesh Rao

NEW DELHI: Greg Yelavich has won more medals in Commonwealth Games than any one from New Zealand. At 53, this shooter is targeting a 12th medal from his seventh successive appearance when he picks up his gun at the Dr. Karni Singh Ranges here on Monday.

Yelavich has an impressive collection of two gold, four silver and five bronze medals. You would be wrong if you thought he might be happy to call it a day with a gold medal during the next fortnight. He is already thinking of competing in the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

“I am only a hobbyist. I occasionally compete internationally other than the Commonwealth Games,” said Yelavich, winner of a silver medal in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. “I truly love shooting. The gun, the medals, the pressure...”

The only time Yelavich went medal-less from the Commonwealth Games was in Manchester, 2002. He took part in four disciplines and found himself between the seventh and the 10 places.

Yelavich is here to take part in 10m air pistol and 25m centre-fire pistol events. In fact, he is armed with his good old Walther Gebrauches Sport pistol that has kept him company for the past 24 years, winning him eight of the 11 medals in the Games.

Did he ever feel the need to change his gun for a more modern version? “Modern parts are mostly cosmetic. Nothing really has changed since the gun's inception,” he reasoned.

Yelavich, who now spends most of the time in coaching youngsters, has been to two Olympics but his performances were not much to speak of.

He finished 41st in free pistol in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and four years later, in Barcelona, ended up 22nd in 10m air pistol and 37th in free pistol.

“I think the Olympics are for the exceptionally talented athletes. I think, I am a very good athlete but I needed to work a lot harder (to excel).

“I realised I had to be in the circuit more often to get among the medals. When you fly back home (from the Olympic Games), you can analyse things better. I fire one round to their (other contenders) 20!” he said.

Looking ahead, Yelavich said, “I've been to the ranges here. It's nothing special really, but pleasant. I found it a little too bright.

“Don't forget, I am coming from a chilly weather, back home.”

Yelavich's Commonwealth medals: 1986 (Edinburgh): Gold in 10m air pistol; gold in free pistol and bronze in 10m air pistol (pairs); 1990 (Auckland): Silver in 25m centre fire pistol (pairs), silver in free pistol (pairs); bronze in 10m air pistol (pairs); 1994 (Victoria): Silver in free pistol (pairs), bronze in 25m centre fire pistol; bronze in 10m air pistol; 1998 (Kuala Lumpur): Bronze in 10m air pistol; 2006 (Melbourne): Silver in 25m centre fire pistol .

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