US teen Ginny Thrasher wins Rio's first gold

Neymar of Brazil reacts with Alaa Ali of Iraq during an Olympic soccer contest held Sunday night. REUTERS  Ueslei Marcelino

Virginia Thrasher of the United States competes during the Women's 10m Air Rifle Qualification at Olympic Shooting Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.

"It's just an intensive feeling of pride for my country and I'm so happy to be here", said Thrasher after the victory ceremony. "I knew it was a realistic expectation for me to get into the finals and once you get into the finals, anything can happen". The event in which she won gold is the first "international shooting competition" in which she has taken part.

"Knowing that I had the first gold medal in the entire Rio 2016 Olympics, that was the moment when I thought I am so proud, I am so proud of being American, I am so proud to stand on that podium, to listen to my nation's anthem and to just be able to represent, and start off this Rio 2016 games on such a positive note", she added. The event started with USA's Sarah Scherer lagging behind with an average performance and she was hence eliminated after 8 rounds with a tally of 78.6 points. Thrasher moved ahead after the seventh and eighth shot.

While Thrasher never drinks caffeine, her pre-match ritual turns serious during a 36-hour period when she typically speaks only to coaches and undertakes journaling exercises to concentrate.

Thrasher pulled it off against two of the world's best rifle shooters, Li and Yi Siling.

It was the fourth Olympics for 34-year-old veteran Du, who won the title at the same event 12 years ago in Athens, Greece. Daria Vdovina from Russian Federation hit straight good shots to climb to the top after 10 shots, but the 9.2 in the 13th shot pulled her down to end up the match at the fifth place. Thrasher took her father's rifle, aimed it, shot and bagged the buck.

Thrasher won her first medal with an Olympic record 208.0 final total, defeating two-time Gold medal victor, China's Li Du.

"I heard the cheers and the horns and it was very disturbing", Yi said.

Next in line to follow the American was Croatia's Snjezana Pejcic who could only manage a paltry 102 points from her 10 rounds of shots. "I also looked up and saw that Virginia and Du Li were doing well themselves".

"After I shoot that match, I'll be going back, straight to classes for my sophomore year", the Springfield, Virginia, native, who attends West Virginia University, said.

"I'm actually looking forward to getting back to school again", Thrasher said.

The ensuing seven hours were so packed with media interviews that Thrasher didn't return to the Olympic village until 11 p.m. Saturday. "She has continued to raise the bar all year, and today's Gold medal is such an incredible way to begin her Olympic career".



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