China wins 1st gold medal of Tokyo Olympics


China's Yang Qian won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics in the women's 10-metre rifle competition on Saturday, and afterward presented herself with her Olympic hardware.

Gold medallist Yang Qian of China, centre, poses on the podium with Russia's Anastasiia Galashina, left, and Switzerland's Nina Christen, right, after winning the women's 10-metre air rifle final, the first gold medal won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.(Tauseef Mustafa/Getty Images)

China's Yang Qian claimed the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday after prevailing in a battle of nerves with the Russian Olympic Committee's Anastasiia Galashina in the women's 10-metre rifle competition.

Galashina barely made it to the final, grabbing the last of the eight qualifying slots, but was in pole position for gold until she cracked under the pressure.

Her last shot of 8.9 was the lowest of any competitor in the final, leaving her on a total of 251.1.

Yang was not immune to the pressure at the Asaka Shooting Range but her below-par final shot of 9.8 was still enough to snatch the gold with an Olympic record total of 251.8.

Switzerland's Nina Christen won the bronze, while American world No. 2 Mary Tucker was eliminated early and finished sixth.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach presented the medals.

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"I was really nervous. The competition was really tight, but I'm so happy that I could win," Yang said after winning an event which did not feature a single medallist from Rio.

"We did train how to perform under pressure. The coaches would actually create a nerve-racking atmosphere and try to pressure us," she later told reporters through an interpreter, her long hair pinned back with a yellow barrette.

Galashina said the pressure got to her on the final shot.

"Perhaps my nervousness took over," Galashina said, adding she was still "euphoric" with a medal in her first Olympics.

Russian athletes are competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee at the Tokyo Olympics this year as part of sanctions for several doping scandals.

Norwegian Jeanette Hegg Duestad had set an Olympic qualifying record of 632.9 to reach the final but finished just outside the medals.

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