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Sunday, 29 July 2012

China Wins 1st London Olympics Gold Medal

LONDON – The first athlete to qualify for the London Olympics also won the first gold medal Saturday.

By Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports

Top-ranked Yi Siling of China captures the first gold medal of the London Games with a victory in the women's 10-meter air rifle competition at Royal Artillery Barracks.

Yi Siling of China, who earned a shooting quota spot when she won the world women's 10-meter air rifle championship in Munich two years ago, capped her domination of the discipline since then with the Olympic title.

"I feel like I had a lot of luck," Yi said, even though the results said otherwise.

Polish soldier Sylwia Bogacka topped qualifying and had gold in her grasp until the third-to-last shot. She recovered to claim silver for her first major medal.

Yu Dan of China earned the bronze. China became the first team since 1988 to have two medalists in the event.

Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi of Malaysia, competing while eight months pregnant, was 34th in the field of 56. She was relieved not to go into labor during the 75-minute qualifying.

"She kicked only three or four times," she said of her baby. "I told her to behave herself, and she always listens to me."

Yi, renowned for her ability to stay unruffled, cried with relief in her coach's arms after the final and welcomed the crush of Chinese media, saying their enthusiasm for her made her feel like a movie star.

Movies may not be far off for the woman known in her homeland as the Shooting Beauty.

But all she and Yu could think of afterward, aside from celebrating with teammates, were their families. Yi said her father has been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure for a year.

Yu became emotional in thanking her family, especially her father, for their support. She stood at the news conference and bowed to the TV cameras and wiped tears.

"They never let me worry," Yu said.

Yi has made it to 12 finals in 15 competitions over the past four years, and medaled nine times. She's the world and Asian champion. Yet she admitted to nerves throughout the event at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

She couldn't catch Bogacka until the Pole flubbed her eighth shot in the 10-shot final. Bogacka scored 9.7, her worst of the final, and dropped to third, but a near-perfect score, 10.8 of 10.9, on her final shot gave her silver ahead of Yu.

"It happens sometimes," Bogacka said of the 9.7. "I didn't prepare well for the shot, but I knew what I did wrong and fixed it for the last shot. I saw in my mind the last shot, 10.8, and when I saw it on the monitor I was very happy."

She's the first Polish shooting medalist since 2000.

Defending champion Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic, who scraped into the final from a qualifying shootoff, finished fourth. Beijing silver medalist Lioubov Galkina of Russia was 10th.

2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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