The excitement was unmistakable despite the mask as America’s 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist in women’s 10m air rifle, Ginny Thrasher, tweeted a picture on November 16. Seen in the waiting lounge with passport in hand and against the backdrop of a runaway, the caption read, “You can’t see it under the mask but I’m SCREAMING WITH EXCITEMENT! I’m off to my first air rifle event in 9 months, can anyone guess where I’m going”.
You can’t see it under the mask, but I’m SCREAMING WITH EXCITEMENT! 😄😄 I’m off to my first air rifle competition in 9 months, can anyone guess where I’m going?? 🗺😜 pic.twitter.com/AnszUWGvCp
— Ginny Thrasher (@GinnyThrasher) November 15, 2020
Team USA, comprising Ginny and Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky, were off to Budapest for the November 20-22 Hungarian Open, and despite months of no competition the duo cornered glory for their country by bagging gold in their respective sections amidst a field that boasted some of the best in the business.
In the build-up to the event, Ginny kept posting updates, one of them with a caption, “Team USA has made it to Budapest! We are fighting off jet lag with a gorgeous walk around the city”.
Team USA has made it to Budapest! 💪🏻 We are fighting off jet lag with a gorgeous walk around the city pic.twitter.com/SPwOLxlyna
— Ginny Thrasher (@GinnyThrasher) November 17, 2020
On Sunday, the 23-year-old again tweeted a photo of the duo with their gold medals and captioned it, “It’s an American double in Budapest! I had a gritty finals performance to finish today strong! I feel a little rusty after 9 months with no competition, but I’m so grateful we’re back”.
It’s an American double win in Budapest!🇺🇸🥇🇭🇺 I had a gritty finals performance to finish today strong! 💪🏻 I feel a little rusty after 9 months with no competitions, but I’m so grateful we’re back🎯 pic.twitter.com/5RmTXgxjSu
— Ginny Thrasher (@GinnyThrasher) November 21, 2020
The gold will go a long way in helping Ginny’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to next year in July due to the pandemic.
Graduating from West Virginia University last year as a 12-time All-American on the rifle team, Ginny moved to Team USA’s training centre in Colorado Springs as a full-time professional preparing for the 2020 Olympics. The pandemic upset plans as the facilities shut down and the Games got postponed. To stay sharp, Ginny made a makeshift shooting range on the East Coast and kept training in the build-up to the Budapest event.
Being able to train was some consolation and Ginny acknowledged the positive. “Being able to train is something I’m honestly so grateful for because most people don’t have that opportunity,” she had said in interview to a TV channel in June. “Athletes around the world in every sport are struggling right now.”
On Saturday, Ginny showed she is not the Olympic champion for nothing. The final was not a smooth sail, but she recovered remarkably to seal the gold by 0.5 points. At Rio, Ginny, ranked 23rd in the world, had beaten the odds to win the Games’ first gold for USA by upsetting Olympic champions Du Li and Yi Siling of China. It was indeed an emotional moment for Ginny as the youngest Olympic champion in women’s 10m air rifle since 1992. “It’s an intense feeling of pride for my country…for my first Olympic experience just coming away with any medal is an absolutely phenomenal thing, and for me to come away with the very first gold in Rio for the United States of America, at 19 years old, is incredible!” she had said after the feat.