MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–If you asked West Virginia University rifle team member Ginny Thrasher as a child where she would be heading into her sophomore year of college, she probably wouldn’t have told you in Brazil winning a gold medal.
In fact, Thrasher didn’t start shooting until her eighth grade year when she went hunting with her grandfather. She enjoyed it and joined her high school air riffle team.
It was all history from there.
“Since getting to West Virginia, I have just blossomed – I love it so much,” Thrasher said. “Being there has really helped me grow not only in my physical abilities but also in my mental capacity for shooting. It’s helped me be a better teammate and have better time management, things all of college sports help athletes achieve.”
Now the Springfield, Va. native is a gold medal winner after finishing first in the women’s 10m air rifle on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Olympic Shooting Centre, located inside Deodoro Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I’m so proud of Ginny and what she achieved today in Rio,” WVU coach Jon Hammond said. “She has continued to raise the bar all year, and today’s Gold medal is such an incredible way to begin her Olympic career.
“I think it’s hard to put into words Ginny’s journey in the last 12 months, but there is simply no higher accomplishment in sports than to be an Olympic champion. We are all incredibly proud of her, though as her coach, I know it’s now time for her to get ready for her second competition later this week.”
Thrasher won her first medal with an Olympic record 208.0 final total, defeating two-time Gold medal winner, China’s Li Du.
Thrasher was the first American to win a gold medal.
“It’s been a pretty crazy 24 hours,” she said. “It’s been insane to go from waking up at 5 a.m. yesterday morning, completing my normal pre-match routine, getting on the bus, going to the range and shooting what was a very difficult qualification round for me. Then, to have a final that was an honor to be a part of, win (the final) and stand on the podium and hear my nation’s anthem was a very pride-instilling moment for me.”
But it is something that hasn’t quite sunk in for the 5-foot-1 Mountaineer.
“Holding that medal in my hands, looking at it and realizing it is still real is something I have to do every few minutes,” she said.
As the last shots of the final took place, Thrasher was just trying to stay focused on the task at hand.
“Going into the last shot, I was just trying to shoot a 10.0 because I knew that’s what I needed,” she said.
The day wasn’t all sunshine and smiles for Thrasher, who had to really battle for the Gold.
“My hold was very big in the qualifying round,” she said. “It was taking a lot of energy, and I was really fighting it. I had to realize that all I could do was shoot the best I could with that I had that day. Even though my hold wasn’t that great, I could still shoot really well and try my best. That’s all I needed to do.”
The 19-year-old engineering student is proud of her accomplishment and representing WVU on a national stage.
“It instills a great sense of pride, especially being born and raised in (the United States of) America,” Thrasher said. “I am a die-hard Mountaineer fan. I love going to school at WVU. Just standing on the podium, hearing the National Anthem and watching our Red, White and Blue flag raised was an amazing moment. I knew that my state, all the states – the entire country – was behind me at the moment. It was very gratifying.”
Thrasher still has a chance to bring home more hardware in the women’s 50m 3 positions competition later in the week.
No matter how she does in the event, one thing is for certain, this Olympics will be on Thrasher and her family won’t forget.
Cover Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images