Olympics: Zhang Mengxue wins China's first gold in Rio shooting

Zhang Mengxue of China poses with her gold medal on the podium.
Zhang Mengxue of China poses with her gold medal on the podium.PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP/Reuters) - First-time Olympian Zhang Mengxue won the gold medal in the women's 10-metre air pistol event on Sunday, extending China's gold medal streak in the sport.

With an assured display of precision shooting at Deodoro the 25-year-old comfortably held off Russian teenager Vitalina Batsarashkina, with Greece's Anna Korakaki taking bronze.

Zhang grabbed her chance to take the title after her compatriot Guo Wenjun, the champion in 2008 and London 2012, misfired badly in qualifying to miss out on the final.

Her score of 199.4 points in 20 shots kept China in top standing in the event after London 2012 and Beijing 2008 gold medallist China's Guo Wenjun failed to qualify for the finals, finishing in 30th place.

Zhang established her lead midway through the event and pulled away with a 10.9 perfect shot in the final rounds.

Her score is an Olympic record under the new finals format.

Another big name missing was the Ukrainian world number one and Athens 2004 champion, Olena Kostevych.  One of the two Russian teens who made it to the final, Ekaterina Korshunova, was the first to fall by the wayside.  She was followed by Serbia’s Bobana Velickovic and Spain’s Sonia Franquet as  Zhang moved menacingly into the lead.

Breathing down her neck was Batsarashkina as Egypt shooter Afaf Elhodhod departed, exit stage left.  Mexico’s Alejandra Zavala Vazquez took fourth, leaving  Zhang, Korakaki and Batsarashkina to fight out the medals.  

Zhang, who only made her debut in international competition in 2015, shot a perfect 10.9 in her 17th shot to pull two points clear, and seal her country’s first of what they will expect to be many golds in Brazil after their opening day’s haul of two silvers and three bronze.