First gold medal awarded at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

·Columnist
·2 min read

TOKYO — Considering how bizarre these Summer Olympics promise to be — no fans, lots of Covid tests, widespread lockdowns in this sprawling metropolis — maybe who won one of the first medals awarded here makes perfect sense.

The silver in 10-meter air rifle went to a woman from a country that is officially banned from even being here.

It took an extra year to begin the 2020 Summer Olympics, but less than 12 hours after the cauldron was lit during the Opening Ceremony, Qian Yang of China captured the first gold of the Games by winning the women’s 10-meter air rifle on Saturday morning here.

She finished with a score of 251.8, coming from behind on the final attempt to beat Anastasiia Galashina of the Russian Olympic Committee, who finished with a 251.1.

China's Qian Yang celebrates with her gold medal after winning the 10m Air Rifle Women's Final at the Asaka Shooting Range on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Saturday July 24, 2021. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
China's Qian Yang celebrates with her gold medal after winning the 10m Air Rifle Women's Final at the Asaka Shooting Range on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. (Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Nina Christen of Switzerland took bronze. American Mary Carolynn Tucker of Sarasota, Florida, finished sixth.

The IOC barred the Russians from officially fielding a team here due to repeated doping scandals. However, it does allow Russian athletes who have never been caught doping to compete under the name "Russian Olympic Committee."

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, where a similar ban was in place, the Russians were known as “Athletes from Russia.” The Russians finished seventh in the medal count with 17 total, including two golds.

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference, you'd be correct.

So it’s confusing. But so is everything right now.

Either way, here was Galashina, a 24-year-old from Yaroslavl, a city of 600,000 northeast of Moscow, leading late before a comeback from 0.2 down by Yang in the final attempt.

It spared the IOC of an immediate embarrassment. They no doubt want as few Russians as possible atop podiums across the next few weeks. Had Galashina won, there would have been no playing of the Russian national anthem. Instead, Piano Concerto No. 1 by the famed Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky would have subbed in.

Either way, the Olympics are off. In addition to shooting, medals will be awarded Saturday in archery, cycling, fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed a year due to Covid restriction, will run through Sunday August 8. A record 339 medals are set to be handed out in 33 different sports.

The most golds won by a single nation at an Olympics was 83 by the United States at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by a Soviet Union-led 14 eastern bloc nations.

As of 11:18 a.m. local time though, China had the lead.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting