RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Bookended by a no-nonsense American teenager and an emotional Italian man, the shooting gold medal winners were an assorted lot of first-time Olympians and dark horses who left many favorites in the dust.
Italy topped the medal count, with four of the 15 golds, followed by Germany with three. Powerhouse China took home seven, but just one gold, and the United States had an utterly disappointing run with one gold and two bronze.
That sole American Olympic title was won by 19-year-old Ginny Thrasher, who came out air rifle blazing to win the first gold of the Games. Her cool confidence wowed the crowd at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Deodoro.
Her American team mates with much more experience and medals, like twice Olympic champion Vincent Hancock in the men’s skeet and Matt Emmons in the 50 meter rifle three positions, failed to qualify for the finals.
“I don’t really have an explanation for it,” said Emmons on the final day of competition. “I really felt we brought a pretty darn good team here.”
American skeet shooter Kim Rhode did make history with her bronze, tying an Olympic record with her sixth medal in six Games.
Vietnam won its first gold medal ever when Hoang Xuan Vinh won the men’s 10 meter air pistol gold and later picked up a silver in the 50 meter event.
Kuwaiti men’s double trap shooter Fehaid Al-Deehani won the first gold ever for an athlete competing under the Olympic flag after Kuwait was banned by the International Olympic Committee.
His countryman, Abdullah Al-Rashidi, was a Brazilian crowd favorite for his charm and distinctive facial hair. With chants of “Mustache,” he went on to win a bronze in skeet.
Wrapping it all up was 28-year-old Italian Niccolo Campriani who won two golds in rifle shooting. He said the key to his success was that he was an emotional man from the Mediterranean where one learns to deal with emotions from the age of two.
Reporting by Mary Milliken; editing by Ken Ferris