Competing against 51 of the best shooters from around the world, Melissa Mulloy made the finals of the 50-meter rifle three-position shoot at the Sydney Olympics and finished eighth overall, just six points shy of the bronze medal.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks senior finished with a score of 673.7. Gold medalist Renata Mauer-Rozanska of Poland had a winning total of 684.6. Russia Tatiana Goldobina claimed silver with a 680.9 and Maria Feklistova of Russia earned the bronze with a 679.9.
Competing in her first Olympics, the 22-year-old Mulloy edged shooters from Norway and Ukraine by a single point in qualifying to earn the eighth and final spot in the finals. Mulloy had the fifth-best score in the 10-shot final round, but it wasn't enough to move her up in the overall standings.
Mulloy had a 580 in the three-position qualifying shoot. Qualifying was split into two series, with each competitor taking 10 shots from the prone, standing and kneeling positions in each series.
Mulloy tied for the top two-series score in the standing position, shooting a 96 and a 97 for a 193 total. The native of Middleton, Mass., shot a 98-99 -- 197 from the prone position, usually the highest scoring position for shooters. In the kneeling portion of qualifying Mulloy shot a 93-97 -- 190.
Defending world champion Sonja Pfeilschifter of Germany shot a perfect 100-100 -- 200 in qualifying from the prone position. Pfeilschifter also had the top kneeling score of 99-98 -- 197, but had only a 93-93 -- 188 from the standing position.
In the finals, which were conducted from just the standing position, Mulloy had a 93.7. Her score in the finals was better than that of Pfeilschifter, who was the gold medal favorite. Pfeilschifter finished fourth overall.
Mauer-Rozanska, the gold medalist, shot an incredible 99.6 in the finals.
Pfeilschifter, Goldobina and Mauer-Rozanska each finished qualifying with scores of 585. Anni Bisso of Denmark (584), Olga Dovgun of Kazakstan (583), Feklistova (582), Hong Shan of China (580) and Mulloy rounded out the shooters who qualified for the finals.
The other two American shooters didn't fare nearly as well as Mulloy. Jean Foster was 26th with a 571 and Thrine Kane was 35th with a 562.
Ten was the highest possible score per shot in the qualifying round. A 10.9 was possible in the finals where scoring was precisely defined into tenths.
In the finals the shots were directed by a range officer. After waiting for a countdown, the competitors had 75 seconds to aim and shoot.