She shot for the gold and hit the mental mark

Updated: 2012-07-29 07:49

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

She shot for the gold and hit the mental mark

Yi Siling acknowledges the audience on the podium after victory on Saturday. Cui Meng / China Daily

She shot for the gold and hit the mental mark

Under incredible pressure to win the 2012 Olympics' first gold, Chinese women's sharpshooter Yi Siling's mettle won the medal. Sun Xiaochen reports.

Chinese women's sharpshooter Yi Siling showed steel nerves on Saturday when she took the gold - the first of the 2012 Olympics - at the women's 10m air rifle at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

China's State councilor and sports minister were in the stands. Back home, millions were watching on live TV.

And many had earlier wondered if she was up to the Games and had even called for her substitution.

Yi won with a total of 103.9 points, 0.7 points ahead of second-place winner Sylwia Bogacka of Poland. Chinese shooter Yu Dan took the bronze.

"Now, I feel like a star," a relieved Yi said after the competition.

China is known for an obsession with the first gold medal of the Olympics - many believe it portends for later success in the Games - which put extra pressure on shooters in the women's 10m air rifle, the first event to produce gold in almost every Games.

Despite her win at the 2010 World Championships, many had become skeptical of the 23-year-old because of her low form in warm-up events London.

Domestic media even suggested head coach Wang Lifu consider instead going with veteran Du Li - a two-time Olympic champion and winner on the event at the 2004 Athens Games - on Saturday.

Wang stuck with his choice. And it proved right. Yi surged to the top spot on her eighth shot and kept her lead until the end.

"It is a huge relief," Yi said, then tearfully hugged her coach after the victory.

The Hunan native admitted the expectation to inspire the entire delegation with a gold at the first event was too much pressure for her and almost crushed her before that crucial eighth shot.

"I started to get pretty nervous from the first shot. I didn't even know what I was doing at the beginning," said Yi, who couldn't help but weep after releasing all the pressure.

When she was down 0.3 points after the seventh shot, Yi tried to calm herself by walking away from the range, sipping water from her red cup while focusing her breath, and then picking up her rifle to shoot that decisive shot.

Yi scored 10.7 points to take back the lead and eventually won the match.

"I guess it's because of my lucky cup," she said.

"It has the same colors as the national flag. Maybe it brought me some good fortune."

Even her opponent gave her credit for her solid mental control.

"It's not like that in Poland. People didn't expect too much of me," said Bogacka, who was shocked by the huge media attention focused on Yi.

"Now, I know how hard it is for her (to handle). So, I am kind of happy that I wasn't the winner."

State Councilor Dai Bingguo, who was accompanied by Sports Minister Liu Peng, said Yi impressed him.

"It's a great achievement for China," Dai said.

"It's really hard to come back from behind and win at last. Your hard work paid off."

Yi said now she cannot wait to return home to take care of her sick father.

Yi entered the national camp after qualifying for the Games last summer and then spent two hours a day to hone her aim and mental control in the nine months away from her family.

"My father has been struggling with hypertension but always cares about my competition," said Yi, a first-time Olympian.

"So, I am happy that I didn't let him down, and I definitely want to go back to look after him right now. What I am desperate to do is to go home and see my parents because I haven't seen them for more than a year."

Wang said he was satisfied after completing his first and biggest assignment in London.

"Without the rise of youngsters, we can't keep our roster strong and energetic in the long term," the coach said.

"I know it's their first try at the Olympics, but we trust them."

Wang led China to finish with a record of five golds at the Beijing Olympics.

Yi's victory also won her a luxury car - an Audi A6L 30 FSI worth 750,000 yuan ($117,000) from the FAW - Audi Sales Division. Audi signed as the official sponsor of the Chinese Shooting Team in early July and offered the prize to encourage and award Chinese shooters.

Contact the writer at