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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April 2004, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Shooting hits the target
American Nancy Johnson competes in the 10m air rifle at the Sydney Olympics
There will be 17 gold medals up for grabs in Athens
There was never likely to be any danger of shooting failing to make the line-up when the Olympics were revived in 1896.

As a former French pistol champion, the founder of the modern Games, Baron de Coubertin, was always going to look favourably on its inclusion.

The format of the Olympic shooting competition has changed greatly over the years.

When it was introduced in Athens, there were just three rifle and pistol events.

This became 21 by 1920, none at all in 1928 and just two on its return in 1932.

The programme was more settled after the Second World War, when team competitions were discontinued, and it now stands at 17 events.

Shooting has produced some stirring Olympic moments.

Oscar Swahn is the oldest Olympic competitor having participated in the 1920 team contest at the age of 72 days and 280 days. He won a silver.
In 1908, Swede Oscar Swahn won two golds and one bronze medal at the age of 60, competing in the running deer single-shot and double-shot events.

He won gold and bronze in Stockholm four years later, and returned after the First World War to take silver at 72.

Even more remarkable were the exploits of Hungarian army sergeant Karoly Takacs, whose shooting career looked to be over when a faulty grenade exploded in his right hand.

Takacs taught himself to shoot left-handed, however, and won gold in the rapid-fire pistol in London in 1948 - breaking the world record by 10 points.

He successfully defended his title in Helsinki four years later.

Women were admitted to Olympic shooting events in Mexico City in 1968, competing in mixed events with the men until Los Angeles in 1984.

Some disciplines, however, remained mixed, and China's Zhang Shan made history by becoming the first woman to win a mixed event with victory in the skeet in Barcelona in 1992.

That was the last time men and women were allowed to compete side by side, and Zhang was unable to defend her title in Atlanta as a result.

When a women's skeet event was introduced in Sydney four years ago, she could only finish eighth.

Sydney marked a high point for Britain's shooters, who celebrated their first medals for 12 years.

Richard Faulds claimed gold in the double trap and Ian Peel silver in the double trap.

MEDAL TABLE (Top seven)
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Men (since 1896)
USA 42 25 21 88
Soviet Union 18 16 15 49
Norway 16 9 12 37
Sweden 14 23 19 56
France 14 16 13 43
Women (since 1984)
China 4 2 3 9
Soviet Union 4 1 3 8
USA 4 1 2 7
Yugoslavia 2 2 3 7
Poland 2 1 2 5

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