FIRST GOLD MEDAL IN RIO — American Virginia Thrasher, center, who was born in Rome, N.Y., holds her gold medal for the Women's 10m Air Rifle competition during the award ceremony today with the runner-up Du li, left, of China and third place Yi Siling, right, of China at the Olympic Shooting Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo)

First Olympic gold medal in Rio goes to shooter born in Rome

Published Aug 6, 2016 at 11:41am

RIO DE JANEIRO — American shooter Virginia Thrasher, who was born in Rome, N.Y., has won the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics, capturing the women's 10-meter air rifle.

The 19-year-old capped a strong year with her victory today.

She became the first freshman to win both individual NCAA rifle titles and helped West Virginia win the team title. She followed that by winning the U.S. Olympic trials less than a month later, earning a trip to Rio.

Once in Rio, she didn't flinch at the spotlight — or an air horn.

Thrasher was sixth in the qualification round today and shot a perfect 10.9 on her opening shot in the finals. She stayed in the top spot as her competitors fell off in the new-to-the-Olympics elimination finals, consistently hitting 10s despite a fan blowing an air horn at random times.

Thrasher had a cumulative score of 208.0 to beat Du Li of China by a point. Defending gold medalist Yi Siling of China earned the bronze.

According to a story on the Women's Outdoor News web site, Thrasher was a member of a military family who moved nine times before the ninth grade after being born in Rome.

Her hometown is now Springfield, Va.