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The first gold, the first surprise at Rio: Virginia Thrasher

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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - It was the first gold medal at the Rio Olympics and arguably the first surprise of the games: Unheralded 19-year-old Virginia Thrasher of the US came out on top ahead of two top Chinese women in the 10m air rifle event.

The sensation was perfect Saturday when she scored 208.0 points, narrowly edging Du Li (207 points) and Yi Siling (185.4 points). Du was Olympic champion in 2004 while Yi had won the gold in 2012.

Thrasher, who has only been shooting competitively for five years, cited the mental aspects of the air rifle discipline.

"If you‘re focussed on ‘Oh, I might get a silver medal instead of gold,‘ then you‘re not really shooting the best that you can," she said in remarks to the Team USA website. "Obviously those distracting thoughts are going to come in, but you have to be very disciplined and that‘s where the mental management really makes a difference."

Thrasher became only the third US woman to win an opening gold medal at an Olympics, and the youngest, assuring her place in the history books. On August 11 she will have as chance at further glory when competing in the women‘s three-position rifle event.

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