Yang Qian of China won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, defeating Russian Anastasiia Galashina in a nerve-wracking battle in the women’s 10-metre rifle competition.
Galashina barely made it to the final, taking the final of eight qualifying spots, but she was in pole position for gold until she cracked under pressure.
Her final shot of 8.9 was the lowest of any finalist, giving her a total of 251.1.
Yang was not immune to the pressure at the Asaka Shooting Range, but her final shot of 9.8 was enough to win gold with an Olympic record total of 251.8.
Nina Christen of Switzerland took bronze, while American world number two Mary Tucker was eliminated early and finished sixth.
The medals were presented by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
“I was extremely nervous. The competition was fierce, but I’m overjoyed to have won “Yang said this after winning an event in which there was not a single Rio medalist.
“We did practise performing under duress. The coaches would actually create a tense atmosphere and try to put us under pressure “She later told reporters, her long hair pinned back with a yellow barrette, through a translator.
Galashina admitted that the pressure got to her during the final shot.
“Perhaps my nerves took over,” Galashina explained, adding that she was still “euphoric” after winning a medal in her first Olympics.
As part of the sanctions for several doping scandals, Russian athletes are competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Jeanette Hegg Duestad of Norway set an Olympic qualifying record of 632.9 to reach the final, but she finished just outside the medals.