The U.S. Olympic Shooting Team left Rio having secured three prized possessions courtesy of a sport-defining Ginny Thrasher gold in Women’s Air Rifle (pictured above), a repeat bronze for Corey Cogdell-Unrein in Women’s Trap and a most historic bronze for Kim Rhode in Women’s Skeet.
For 36 hours, Thrasher was the face of Team USA as the lone gold medalist, winning the first medal of the 2016 Olympic Games. The 19-year-old West Virginia University sophomore was propelled into the media spotlight while the subsequent reveal of her personality and grace made her a star.
On what it’s like to be behind the gun at such a strenuous competition, Thrasher said:
"I think this competition is one where you can mentally outthink yourself, and that’s the danger. For me, just being very focused. During the match I started out with some struggles, and I had to come off the line and my Olympic coach down there said, ‘Ginny, all you can do is shoot the best you can.’ I got back on the line, and that’s what I did. I shot the best that I could. I had a very bad hold, but it didn’t matter. Once I got into the final, I was very much focused on my breathing, and that was the point where all the training and all the discipline just came through for me. All I did was focus on my breathing and let my body do what it knew how to do."
These Games proved once again that the rest of the world is really good at shooting too. China and Italy led the overall medal totals with seven apiece, including a Games-high four gold for Italy. Germany showcased its strength in winning three gold medals and four overall as well. A total of 19 countries, including two from IOC-sanctioned Kuwait that was competing under the IOA flag, earned medals in shooting.