Czech shooter shatters China's first gold dream

AFP
Aug 09, 2008 at 12:45pm IST

Beijing: Czech shooter Katerina Emmons won the first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics when she took the women's 10m Air Rifle competition with a new Games record here on Saturday.

Lioubov Galkina of Russia won the silver and Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia claimed the bronze.

China's Du Li, the Athens Olympics gold medallist, finished fifth, disappointing millions at home who expected her to win the first gold of their own Olympics.

TAKING THE LEAD: Czech Republic's Katerina Emmons (C) Russia's Lioubov Galkina (L) and Croatia's Snejana Pejcic are seen during the medal ceremony.

Li, under pressure to produce 'aoyun shoujin' -- first Olympic gold -- fled the hall in tears, refusing to speak to the large Chinese media contingent.

Li met the same fate as compatriot Zhao Yinghui, who was the favourite to win the first gold medal at Athens, but also failed to finish on the podium.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge was among the sell-out crowd of 5,000 at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall and also presented the medals.

Emmons, 24, who took the bronze in Athens, finished with 503.5 points to break Li's Olympic record of 502 points four years ago.

Emmons never looked back after setting a world record total of 400 in the qualification rounds before adding 103.5 points in the eight-woman final.

As soon as the event finished, Emmons ran into the arms of her American husband Matthew Emmons, himself a top shooter who won the Olympic gold in the 50m Rifle Prone event at Athens.

His wife swept the world championships in 2002, but came in second behind Li in the 2006 event at Zagreb, Croatia.

"I just feel great," was Emmons' brief comment as she walked out of the hall accompanied by her husband, whom she met at Athens.

Her father Petr Kurka was also a two-time world champion shooter.

Galkina, 35, the silver medallist at Athens who returned to competitive shooting this year after the birth of a son last November, finished just a point behind the champion.

China's hopes of a good start in their bid to win a majority of gold medals in the 15-event shooting competition now rest on men's 10m Air Pistol world champion Peng Wei, who will be in action later on Saturday.

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