America Claims First Olympic Gold Medal of Rio 2016 as Vietnamese Shooter Makes History
American teenager Virginia Thrasher claimed the first gold medal of Rio 2016 after winning the women’s 10 metres air rifle event at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Deodoro today.
In the men’s 10m air pistol event, Hoang Xuan Vinh claimed Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in any sport.
Thrasher, 19-year-old from Springfield in Virginia, was making her Olympic debut.
She secured an odd-defying victory, beating China’s defending champion Yi Siling and her team-mate Athens 2004 gold medallist Du Li.
Thrasher, ranked 23rd in the world, scored 208.0 points to set a final Olympic record after registering 416.3 in qualification.
As it was the first medal of the Games, it was presented by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
“It’s just an intense feeling of pride for my country,” said Thrasher, who was awarded her gold medal by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
“I’m so happy to be here.”
The American became the youngest Olympic champion in the women’s 10m air rifle women since 1992 when South Korea’s Yeo Kab-Soon won at the age of 18.
“I was just trying to shoot the best that I could,” Thrasher added.
“You know, for my first Olympic experience just coming away with any medal is an absolutely phenomenal thing, and for me to come away with the very first gold medal in Rio 2016, for the United States of America, at 19 years old, is incredible.”
Du, 34, won the the silver medal with a tally of 207.0 points having earlier set an Olympic record in qualification with 420.7.
She returned to an Olympic podium eight years after winning the women’s 50m rifle three positions title in Beijing
London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Yi had to settle for the bronze this time with 185.4 points.
Hoang scored 202.5 points, setting an Olympic record and beating Brazil’s Felipe Almeida Wu, who secured the silver medal with 202.1 points.
Vietnam had made her Olympic debut at Helsinki 1952 but previously only ever won two silver medals, weightlifter Hoàng Anh Tuấn at Beijing 2008 and taekwondo player Tran Hieu Ngan at Sydney 2000.
Hoang had missed qualifying for the final at London 2012 by one place.
“I think this is a huge achievement, not just for me, but for my whole country,for all the Vietnamese people,” said the 41-year-old from Hanoi.
“I would like to exploit this result to start teaching shooting sport to the younger generations in Vietnam.”
Wu’s silver medal was the first one of these Olympics for hosts Brazil.
The 24-year-old started out as the favourite, ranking first in the world after claimed two International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup gold medals this year in Bangkok and Baku.
China’s Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Pang Wei of China won the bronze medal with 180.4 points, finishing third just three hours after Du, his wife, had won the silver medal.
Shooting action is due to continue tomorrow with the women’s 10m air pistol and women’s trap events.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz