Czech shooter wins games' first gold

Aug. 09, 2008, 12:45 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The Emmons family is off to a fine start at the Beijing Olympics.

Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic won the 10-meter air rifle Saturday, spoiling China's bid for the games' first gold medal. Emmons, the wife of American shooter Matt Emmons, finished with an Olympic record of 503.5 points after shooting a perfect 400 in qualifying.

"I had a headache this morning. I felt very bad. I couldn't imagine how I would shoot feeling this bad," said Emmons, who won bronze in this event in 2004. "Especially since it's the first gold medal of the Olympics, I feel amazing."

Lioubov Galkina of Russia won the silver and Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia took the bronze.

The big surprise was a fifth-place finish by China's Du Li. She won the event four years ago in Athens. Du was just a point behind Emmons after qualifying.

"As for the final, I wasn't fully prepared for the pressure of competing at home," Du said.

Du was greeted with a roar from the fans in the upper balcony of the shooting range when she came out for the final. She turned to face the crowd with a wide smile on her face, waved and bowed before heading over to her lane. However, she misfired immediately in the final round, scoring only 9.8 points on her first attempt. Competitors can earn up to 10.9 points per shot in the final.

Emmons was all but assured of victory with one shot remaining. Of course, her husband was in a similar spot four years ago in the three-position rifle event. He missed out on a gold medal because he fired at the wrong target on the final shot - an unthinkable gaffe.

Katerina Emmons won comfortably by 1.4 points Saturday.

"I'm more proud of her than if I was to do it myself," Matt Emmons said.

Matt Emmons did win a gold in prone rifle in Athens, and will compete in both prone and three-position rifle this year. Katerina Emmons will compete in three-position rifle on the women's side.

"I did my part. I mean, half of my job is done," she said. "Matt's going to shoot his best."

Katerina and Matt Emmons are staying with each other at these Olympics - the Czech Republic team helped find them a room together. After Saturday's event, the couple posed with a Czech flag wrapped around themselves.

"I know I would do good even if he wasn't here, if he couldn't be here for some reason. I know he would do great if I wasn't here for him," she said. "But the fact that we're here together is awesome."