China’s Guo Wenjun showed nerves of steel as she came from behind on the very last shot to defend her 10m air pistol Olympic title in thrilling fashion yesterday, while Kimberly Rhode won the gold medal in women’s skeet, making her the first American to take an individual-sport medal in five consecutive Games.
Rhode won a gold medal in double trap in Atlanta, Georgia, as a teenager in 1996, took bronze in that event four years later in Sydney, reclaimed the gold in Athens in 2004 and won the silver in the skeet in Beijing in 2008.
She set an Olympic record in qualifying, missing only one of her 75 shots.
With her final effort, Guo shot a 10.8 in the 10m air pistol, just 0.1 points short of a maximum score, drawing gasps from the packed crowd at the Royal Artillery Barracks and overhauling France’s Celine Goberville, who had led going into the last round.
Goberville could only manage 8.8, putting her level on points with Athens 2004 gold medalist Olena Kostevych of Ukraine. In a shoot-off, Goberville recovered to secure the silver.
Ice-cool Guo, 28, who said her motto was “Never give up,” maintained she always felt she had a chance of gold going into the final shot — even though she was trailing by 0.5 points.
“I just focused on doing my best on the final shot,” she said. “I think everyone is good, I just never give up.”
Guo said she put a poor eighth shot out of her mind as the competition reached its nail-biting climax, adding: “It was done. I just couldn’t keep thinking about it.”
The Chinese crack shot, who topped the earlier qualifying round in which Taiwan’s Yu Ai-wen and Tien Chia-chen were eliminated after finishing 27th and 36th out of 49 respectively, lost ground after the first shot of the final when she only managed a score of 8.0.
As the rain thundered onto the roof of the temporary building that houses the competition, the pressure built, with neither athlete able to forge a decisive lead, leading to the dramatic climax.
Guo finished with a total score of 488.1, 1.5 points ahead of Goberville.
Goberville said she was proud to win France’s first medal of the Games and was not disappointed to miss out on gold.
“I didn’t think about winning a medal. I’ve had a good season, but these are my first Olympic Games and for me I thought the podium was not reachable,” she said. “Before the last shot, I tried not to look at what was happening in the rankings, but I had to and it didn’t disturb me. The last shot, I can’t explain why I missed it. It’s not because it was the last shot.”