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1st Olympic gold goes to Czech shooter

Aug. 09, 2008, 2:32 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) And the first gold medal of the 2008 Beijing Olympics goes to ... Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic.

It should look great in her Colorado Springs, Colo., trophy case.

Emmons is the wife of American shooter Matt Emmons and the couple lives in the hometown of USA Shooting. They hooked up at the last Olympics, when her last name was Kurkova and she won bronze in this event.

This time, she was a bit of a surprise winner over favorite Du Li of China, the reigning gold medalist who was aiming for the first gold to stay in the host country. With the Americans and Chinese expected to battle it out for the most golds, remember this victory by a U.S. resident if the race is close.

Actually, China already leads 1-0. Weightlifter Chen Xiexia won the second event, even setting Olympic records in the clean and jerk and for total score.

With Emmons also setting an Olympic record, the 2008 Summer Games are already leaving a mark.

Five more golds were to be awarded Saturday, although all later in the day: men's 10-meter air pistol, cycling's men's road race, judo's women's 106 pounds and men's 132, and women's individual saber in fencing, an event that could feature a U.S. sweep.

Meanwhile, the games began - or were to begin - in 13 other sports Saturday, including Michael Phelps diving in for preliminary heats in the 400 individual medley.



Emmons was on target from the start, shooting a perfect 400 in qualifying then finishing with an Olympic record of 503.5.

Lioubov Galkina of Russia won the silver and Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia took the bronze. Jamie Beyerle of Lebanon, Pa., finished fourth.

Du was greeted with a roar from the fans in the upper balcony of the shooting range when she came out for the final. Overwhelmed, she followed with a misfire.

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

At the Emmons home, there could be several medals from these games. Katerina still has the three-position rifle event, while hubby Matt will compete in both prone and three-position rifle.

"I did my part," she said.



Chen Xiexia, last year's world champion, dominated Saturday's competition from start to finish, lifting 210 pounds in the snatch and 258 in the clean and jerk.

Turkey's Sibel Ozkan won the silver medal, while Chen Wei-Ling of Taiwan finished third. The 2004 Olympic champion, Nurcan Taylan of Turkey, was eliminated after three failed attempts in the snatch.

Chen Wei-Ling had a shot at the silver medal but failed in her final attempt at 254, collapsing to the floor as the bar dropped.

Wrapped in a Chinese flag, Chen Xiexia received the gold medal and sang along with the crowd to the Chinese national anthem. China is expected to win at least five gold medals in weightlifting, a sport it has dominated in recent years.



The 153-mile men's road race started in the morning with 143 competitors from 54 countries. The route takes them past Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and other landmarks, then outside the city for seven punishing laps of a hilly loop course between two points on the Great Wall.

The finish is at Juyongguan, about 50 miles outside Beijing. The race is expected to take about seven hours.


Women's basketball

-WNBA star Lauren Jackson had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Australia past Belarus 83-64. Australia's Prime Minster Kevin Rudd was among their cheering fans.

-Angela Marino scored 19 points and Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe hit two late 3-pointers to help New Zealand beat Mali 76-72.


Elsewhere around the games:

-President Bush got sandy at the beach volleyball venue, bumping a few balls off his hands with defending gold medalist Misty May-Treanor on the practice courts.

"I think if he'd take his shoes off, he'd be a stud," said Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor's teammate.

Laura Bush and daughter Barbara toured the Forbidden City about an hour before it opened to tourists. Her visit to the former imperial palace next to Tiananmen Square came eight hours after she attended the opening ceremony. She visited a new exhibit of imperial robes and walked through ceremonial halls before invited journalists were escorted away.

-Greek sprinter Tassos Gousis was excluded from the Olympics after failing a doping test in his home country a few days before the games.

The Greek national Olympic committee said the 200-meter runner tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone on Monday. He has been sent home from a pre-games training camp in Japan after being informed of the result.

-The Chinese gymnast age issue is settled. They're old enough, despite documents and media reports saying that three athletes are as young as 14, two years less than rules allow.

Chinese officials have insisted the girls are all of eligible age, and have given International Gymnastics Federation and IOC passports to back that up.

-A pro-Tibet group said five activists staged a "peaceful protest" in Tiananmen Square, breaching heavy security that has surrounded the heart of Beijing for the Olympics.

Lhadon Thetong, executive director for Students for a Free Tibet, said the protesters draped themselves in Tibetan flags and lay down in the square. It wasn't immediately clear if they were stopped by authorities.