Fri | Aug 18, 2017

US teen on target for first gold

Published:Sunday | August 7, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Virginia Thrasher of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal for the Women's 10m Air Rifle event at Olympic Shooting Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil yesterday.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):

The Olympics began in full with the first gold medal going to an American teenager by the fearsome name of Thrasher. And there was fear and plenty of rough riding on a punishing cycling course that showed the beauty and blight of the host city.

Virginia Thrasher, a 19-year-old who once had her heart set on figure skating, captured the 10-metre air rifle yesterday. Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium won the gruelling road race that left cyclists tending to scrapes, bruises and road rash.

Riders rolled off to the sound of crashing waves on Copacabana Beach on a steamy morning hours after Brazil's high-energy opening party featuring thumping funk, sultry samba and supermodel Gizele Bundchen sauntering to the tune of 'The Girl from Ipanema'.

Showcasing Rio's famed beaches and majestic mountains, the men's road race began under clear, sunny skies buzzing with helicopters some carrying TV cameras, others from the military to provide security.

The brutality of the course became evident over the cobblestone sectors that rattled one cyclist off his bike, cost another his chain, and forced Tour de France champion Chris Froome to change his broken bike.

Van Avermaet out sprinted Jakob Fuglsang and Rafal Majka on the long run to the finish at sun-splashed Copacabana Beach after Italy's Vincenzo Nibali and Colombia's Sergio Henao crashed while trying to navigate a corner on the final harrowing descent of the 6-hour race.

Thousands of police and soldiers were patrolling the city amid concerns about safety as athletes opened the first full day of the Olympics with table tennis, rowing, archery, water polo and fencing all taking place under a cloudless sky and warm temperatures.

Among the highlights on Day One

 

GOING FOR GOLD:

 

- YOUTH SERVED: Thrasher topped her spectacular spring where she won three NCAA titles and a spot on the US Olympic team by upsetting China's Li Du, a two-time gold medalist, to capture the 10m air rifle title. She swapped figure skating for shooting after a family hunting trip in which she killed a deer with her first shot.

- HANDBALL HOST: Hosts Brazil upset reigning gold medalist Norway 31-28 in the opening game of the handball tournament. Ana Paula Rodrigues led the way with 12 goals for Brazil, who have never won an Olympic handball medal. As the arena filled with passionate home fans for the early morning game, five straight goals and big saves from goalkeeper Mayssa Raquel Pessoa paved the way for victory.

- WOMEN FIRST: France won the first game of rugby at the Olympics in 92 years and the first ever for women beating Spain 24-7 to begin the six-day sevens tournament.

- BAD BREAK: French gymnast Samir Ait Said's Olympics ended when he severely injured his left leg while vaulting during team preliminaries.