Teen gives United States of America its first gold medal of Rio Olympics

Ross Houston
August 13, 2016

"This is beyond my wildest dreams", Thrasher said.

"I have to go refocus for my next match", the teen gold medalist said, adding that she shoots again on August 11. "For me, this year has been incredible".

Her interest in competitive shooting was piqued by a hunting trip as a youngster. "It went from waking up at 5 a.m. (Saturday), doing all my prematch routines and then getting on the bus and going to the range and shooting what was a very hard qualification round for me and having a final that was just an honor to be a part of".

Thrasher attends the University of West Virginia, where she helped the Mountaineers rifle team win its fourth straight national title while winning two individual championships. Certainly these are part of the package Thrasher brings with her air rifle to tournament play, so much so she sounded offended when someone asked her if she had to cut out caffeine the day before a match to make sure she would not have any shakes.

Teen gives United States of America its first gold medal of Rio Olympics

As Thrasher stood in the finals hall of the Olympic Shooting Centre yesterday, a raucous crowd behind her and bossa nova playing in the speakers, few would have bet on the American - ranked No. 23 in the world and the only Olympic debutante among the eight finalists - to prevail.

Soon after, Thrasher joined the air rifle team at her high school in Springfield, a suburb of Washington.

China's Du Li entered the quarter-finals, bagging the top spot with a score of 420.7, setting a new Olympic record at the event.

Thrasher beat two-time gold medallist Du by one point. "But I quickly pushed that thought away and focused on breathing, just taking one shot at a time". China's Siling Yu earned the bronze.

Fencing, men's epee: Park Sang-young of South Korea won the country's third gold medal of the Olympics, beating 41-year old Geza Imre of Hungary in the final, as Imre picked up his third Olympic medal.

11 p.m. To her great relief, she completed her final interviews Sunday night.

Thrasher stood her ground against the two Chinese shooters in the medal eliminations, hitting nothing lower than 10.4. "I don't have any affeine ever so that takes care of that", she said.

"I couldn't stop myself from looking at the standings time and again", she added. "I also looked up and saw that Virginia and Du Li were doing well themselves". Thrasher is from Springfield, Virginia and is now a student at West Virginia University.

USA Today reported that Thrasher expressed concern that her sport had been tarnished by the United States debate over gun controls.

She responded matter of factly that the controversy over guns in America "really is just distracting from our sport, which is very different". The topic had previously been touched upon as it impacted Thrasher's teammate, Kim Rhode.

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