by Lil Tuttle
Not favored to win a medal in Rio, 19-year-old Ginny Thrasher "pull[ed] off an upset in the women's 10-meter air rifle event Saturday morning" to take the first gold medal of the 2016 Olympic games.
How hard is it to achieve gold medal expertise? In an ABC News interview, Thrasher described the tiny target she must hit from 10 meters away:
“Picture a pencil, and if you take the eraser of that pencil, that’s the very middle of the circle. And then if you took a period in size 12 Times New Roman font, and you put it in the middle of that pencil eraser, that is the 10. So, I have to hit that dot at 10 meters to shoot a 10. Now that’s just a 10.0, if I hit that dot it’s just a 10.0, and then if I hit in the very exact center it’s a 10.9,” Thrasher explained.
Thrasher added that her average during qualification was slightly above a 10.4.
“I mean it’s not an Olympic sport for nothing!” the teenager joked.
Olympic-level Expertise Requires Practice, Ammunition
That level of expertise requires a lot of practice with a lot of ammunition – ammunition that is often more difficult to access due to gun control laws. A USA Today story explains:
The sport of shooting has become caught up in discussions over gun rights and the associated political debate. Thrasher's teammate, six-time Olympian Kim Rhode, spoke earlier this week about how new gun measures in her state of California had affected her training because she must complete extensive background checks to buy ammunition for practice. Rhode is an outspoken member of the National Rifle Association and previously spoke on the matter at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Thrasher will compete again for Olympic medals on August 11 before heading back to school, where she is majoring in biomedical engineering.
"I get home 20 hours before the first class," she told reporters. "So I'll be in physics at 8:30 a.m."