MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games officially opened just 18 hours ago, and the United States and West Virginia University have already won Gold, as Mountaineer sophomore Ginny Thrasher
finished first in the women’s 10m air rifle this morning at the Olympic Shooting Centre, located inside Deodoro Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Thrasher’s Gold medal was the first awarded in Rio. The reigning NCAA air rifle and smallbore champion, the 19-year-old is the third-youngest USA women’s shooting medalist. Additionally, she is the third USA shooter to win the women’s 10m air rifle and the first since Nancy Napolski-Johnson won in 2000.
“I’m so proud of Ginny and what she achieved today in Rio,” WVU coach Jon Hammond said. “She has continued to raise the bar all year, and today’s Gold medal is such an incredible way to begin her Olympic career.
“I think it’s hard to put into words Ginny’s journey in the last 12 months, but there is simply no higher accomplishment in sports than to be an Olympic champion. We are all incredibly proud of her, though as her coach, I know it’s now time for her to get ready for her second competition later this week.”
A native of Springfield, Virginia, Thrasher won her first career medal with an Olympic record 208.0 final total, edging China’s Li Du, who finished second with a 207.0 mark. Du claimed Gold in the event at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Yi Siling, also of China and the defending Olympic champion, finished third with a 185.4 mark.
Thrasher is the fifth shooter and first female with ties to the WVU rifle program to medal at an Olympic Games. A Mountaineer shooter has now earned a medal in back-to-back Olympics, as 2011 graduate Nicco Campriani won Gold and Silver for Italy at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Additionally, she is the second student-athlete to earn an Olympic medal while still enrolled at WVU. James Jett (1989-1992) earned Gold with the USA men’s 4x100m relay team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games before returning to Morgantown for his senior season with the Mountaineers.
Today’s medal caps off a brilliant rookie season for Thrasher, a three-time All-American. In March, the WVU Honors College student became the first freshman in NCAA history to sweep the individual titles with wins in smallbore and air rifle at the 2016 NCAA Championships, where WVU also claimed its fourth straight and 18th overall national championships.
Thrasher advanced to today’s final with a sixth place, 416.3 showing in the qualification relay. Ziva Dvorsak, a 2015 WVU graduate, shot for Slovenia and finished 17th with a 414.7 score, and Petra Zublasing, a 2013 WVU graduate, competed for Italy and finished in 33rd place with a 411.6 mark.
Thrasher returns to the range on Thursday, Aug. 11, for the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions competition. The qualification relay will begin at 8 a.m. ET, and the final will follow at 11 a.m.