Asia takes first Gold and headlines
The event was graced by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge who watched the 40 minute final and then presented the first medal at his last Games before he steps down from the role next year
July 29, 2012 9:41 by Reuters
Shooting took centre stage at the Olympics on Saturday when IOC PresidentJacques Rogge handed over the first gold medal of the London Games, but it was the pioneering and pregnant athletes who stole the show.
China’s Yi Siling took the honour of being the first London gold medallist when she won the women’s 10 metre air rifle at a packed Royal Artillery Barracks in southeast London as supporters clamoured to see the opening action.
“I felt like a movie star,” the 23-year-old Yi told reporters after winning her first Olympic gold.
“Now I’ve got the gold medal I feel very happy and very excited. I almost cried.”
The event was graced by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge who watched the 40 minute final and then presented the first medal at his last Games before he steps down from the role next year.
However, Yi and Rogge shared the spotlight with eight-months pregnant shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi ofMalaysia who had the world’s media hanging on her every word and movement.
Struggling to fit into her shooter’s jacket, the 29-year-old could only finish 34th in the 56 woman qualifying heat but her performance was not the pressing issue.
“Baby is quite fine. She hasn’t made an appearance during training or competition. I told her to behave herself,” Suryani said after she felt “only three or four kicks” during the competition.
“When she kicked I tried to breathe in, breathe out and make myself calm.”
Another markswoman was also causing quite a stir.
Bahia Al Hamad became Qatar’s debut female Olympian when she was the first of the Gulf nation’s three women athletes to see action in London.
“DREAM COME TRUE”
The 20-year-old carried the flag for her country the previous evening at the opening ceremony and finished a credible 17th in the rifle qualifying heat after receiving a wild card to take part.
“The competition was very hard, but I’m so happy and I enjoyed it,” Al Hamad said.
“It is fun to be in the Olympics. It’s a dream come true for me to be here,” she added before fleeing the media scrum around her mid-question as the attention seemed all too much.
After the qualifying had finished, Yi took control of the eight-woman final when she fired a pinpoint 10.7 at the target, just shy of the maximum 10.9, to overtake rival Poland’s Sylwia Bogacka who had led for most of the way but could only manage a 9.7.
Bogacka had to settle for silver and China also collected a bronze thanks to Yu Dan but there was no clean sweep on day one for the 2008 Games hosts.
Expected to claim the majority of the 15 shooting golds on offer in London, China suffered a disappointing start to the men’s disciplines when defending champion Pang Wei finished fourth in the 10m air pistol.
The event was won by South Korean Jin Jong-oh, who held his nerve to hold on for victory after a slight mid-final meltdown.
Groans echoed around the indoor range from the 2,000 spectators who packed both shooting finals as Jin fired a disappointing nine with his seventh shot to give his opponents hope.
But the 32-year-old, firing his pistol with his right hand while his left was planted firmly in his pocket, roared back with a near perfect 10.8 to seal gold ahead of Italy’s Luca Tesconi. Andrija Zlatic of Serbia took bronze
“The Chinese guy won the gold last time. I promised myself that I would not let it happen this time,” Jin said.
Jin’s memorable finished wrapped up a successful day for shooting, which attracts big headlines in Asia but lacks the same popularity elsewhere.
The women are the sole focus on Sunday with two gold medals up for grabs in the 10m air pistol and the skeet.