US & Canada

Rio Olympics 2016: How US teenager Ginny Thrasher shot to fame

Ginny Thrasher Image copyright Getty Images

The 19-year-old American shooter who claimed the first gold medal in Rio had long dreamed of Olympic glory - as a figure skater.

But Ginny Thrasher became passionate about shooting during a family hunting trip when she was a young teenager, she told the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper.

When her grandfather pointed to a deer behind her, she grabbed a gun, pulled the trigger and amazed her companions by killing the animal.

Soon after, Thrasher joined the air rifle team at her high school in Springfield, a suburb of Washington.

On a meteoric learning curve, she won five medals at the 2015 US Shooting National Championship.

Success did not end there. As a college freshman, she won two titles as the National Collegiate Athletic Association last year.

Three weeks later she went to US Olympic team trials and prevailed over "a seasoned and talented field", according to the USA Shooting team website.

She earned a comfortable victory despite having never competed internationally.

So even making it to Rio was an astonishing achievement for the teenager.

And she has now shot to stardom by beating favourites to become the gold medal winner in Rio.

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