Sharp shooting Korakaki adds gold to her Rio medal tally
The 20-year-old Korakaki prevailed over Germany’s Monika Karsch, 13 years her senior, who mounted a late but ultimately unsuccessful rally to reel her young rival in, coming back from 6-0 down to 6-6, before Korakaki won the seventh five-shot round to secure an 8-6 victory overall.
Heidi Diethelm Gerber of Switzerland won the bronze medal, beating world No. 1 and world champion Zhang Jingjing of China to the final spot on the podium. Remarkably, the 47-year-old Swiss shooter only took up the sport at 33. After a disappointing showing at London 2012, she decided to give up her job as a bookkeeper to focus on the next Olympic cycle, and her dedication paid dividends.
After winning what was an incredibly tough and nerve-wracking final match, Korakaki jumped up and down and embraced her father, who had been so tense during the final rounds that he could not even bear to watch his daughter perform.
“We have been through many, many difficulties," reflected Korakaki, who burst into tears of joy on the podium. “I was about to quit shooting three years ago when I was 17.”
And she admitted that the fact she already had a medal in the bag meant she was able to approach her gold medal showdown without so many nerves. “I can say that winning the bronze [in the 10 metre air pistol] two days ago helped me because my mentality has changed," she explained. “It meant I was calmer and I only wanted to enjoy it and I did. But it was still a difficult match today.”
Now, says Korakaki, she is already looking forward to using her performance in Rio as the springboard for future success: “Goals never stop, so I am dreaming of more medals in my career.”Defending Olympic champion Kim Jang-mi of the Republic of Korea narrowly missed out on qualification for the semi-final, and ended up in ninth place.