Consider me slow to the punch, but I learned today that the ISSF, the governing body for global shooting events, have decided to alter the rules on scoring in finals. Previously, points accumulated in heats were carried through to the final, giving strong qualifiers a distinct advantage. Now, scores are reset to zero and the competition ends in a “duel”.
The changes, set to apply for the 2013-2016 seasons, were agreed by officials, coaches and athletes. “Changing is necessary, to keep our sport on top,” said Olegario Vazquez Raña, the ISSF president. “The Shooting Sport has always been a leading sport in the Olympic movement. And with the new finals we made an important step forward to keep that leading position.” Sounds a little strange to hear that in this country, where the sport of shooting barely made the headlines in this country during the Olympics. Had Peter Wilson not won gold in the Double Trap, it may not have even been mentioned.
Yet it is Wilson’s gold medal chances that would have been scuppered had these rules existed this year. Going into the final at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Wilson had scored 143 in the qualifiers, three points clear of rivals Vasily Mosin and Fehaid Aldeehani. Has the final went on, nerves got the better of him and began to drop his lead somewhat. Fortunately, he held on to claim the gold from Sweden’s Hakan Dahlby. Yet, under the new system of scoring (duels notwithstanding, since I’m not yet clear on how these eliminations work), the Swede would have run away with the top prize, having scored four more targets more than the Brit.
With just 45 points in the final, Wilson scored the same as the other four competitors. Under the new duel system, which supposedly removes confusion but seems to add much more, one of Wilson and the others would have battled Dahlby for the gold. On Wilson’s form in the final, he probably wouldn’t have made it.
Only yesterday, I was praising the old shooting scoring system, making it it unique from other competitions that reset the scores every round. Early performances matter, you’ve got to be at your best all the way through the event. Now, with the added element of duels and eliminations, there’s supposed to be more excitement. I don’t know about you, but Wilson’s gritty determination to hang on to his lead was one of my moments of the Olympics. You don’t need a head-to-head showdown to force tension.