Hardly half a day passed before politics, the pandemic and blistering heat impacted events across the Tokyo Olympics.
China’s Yang Qian, at least, stayed right on target.
Yang overtook Anastasiia Galashina of Russia to win the first gold medal of the Tokyo Games in the women’s 10-meter air rifle Saturday. Her last shot was her worst of the finals but still rallied her past Galashina with an Olympic-record score of 251.8. Switzerland’s Nina Christen took bronze.
“It’s unbelievable that I can be here,” Yang said through an interpreter. “I was really nervous. The competition was really tight, but I’m so happy that I could win.”
Galashina led Yang by 0.2 points when they fired almost simultaneously on their last shots. The limited crowd at Asaka Shooting Range let out gasps as the scores posted a split second later.
Yang, a 21-year-old who qualified sixth of the eight medal competitors, missed the innermost circle on her final shot, a 9.8 that she figured would cost her gold.
She looked up to see Galashina missed the two center rings. The Russian’s 8.9 meant IOC President Thomas Bach would present Yang the gold medal on a tray — per pandemic protocols — instead of Galashina.