‘I hadn’t fired’: Freak judging howler almost lost Russian shooting star crucial points on her way to nation’s 1st Olympics gold
Omsk-born Batsarashkina set an Olympic record as she stormed to the first gold medal for her country at the Games, scoring 240.3 points to beat Bulgarian rival Antoaneta Kostadinova by 0.7 points, having been 0.9 behind ahead of the final session.
Batsarashkina's family have revealed that they feared the star would lose the shooting nerve that has been nurtured in her since she was a child, although the 24-year-old was more worried about an electronics error that failed to register one of her shots.
“The judges didn’t notice that I hadn’t fired a shot when I still had time for it – I could continue to shoot for 27 seconds," Batsarashkina explained to Tass of the incredible oversight.
"And they gave me 50 seconds again to shoot. I think it gave me time to breathe. That does not happen very often – once in two, three or five finals, an electronics failure may occur."
Judges would not have given Batsarashkina a point had the mishap not been pointed out to them.
“We called each other in the morning and she complained a little that the shooting did not work out at the beginning," said one of Batsarashkina's coaches, Natalya Kudrinabut.
"But the middle was good. There was a delay in shooting, she had enough self-control and she set an Olympic record."
Batsarashkina's mother, Irina, revealed that both of the heroine's grandfathers had inspired her from a young age.
"We have two grandfathers — my father and my husband’s father — who are both avid hunters,” she said.
“Vitalina went hunting from the age of six. She was introduced to this life, her grandfathers gave her pneumatics early. She was a kid – there were never any dolls, she was nimble and active.
“I knew that she was capable of this as it was not her first time in international competitions. But we were afraid that she might lose her nerve. I hoped there would be a medal but, honestly, I didn’t think it would be gold."
That gold capped a fine opening to the Games for Russia – under the ROC banner – that has included silver for Anastasia Galashina in the 10m air rifle shooting and bronze for Mikhail Artamonov in taekwondo.
“I didn’t set myself the task of winning and getting into the top three or even the final, but simply shooting as best I can and showing what I can," said Batsarashkina, whose next ambitions including the 25m shooting competition that begins on Thursday and, outside of the sport, marrying her partner.
"The main thing is that you have completed the task. I hope [to have a wedding] this year, because we have been planning it for a long time."
Another of Batsarashkina's ecstatic coaches, Valentin Kudrin, spoke about the tense build-up to her victory.
"We were in a very positive mood," he claimed to Tass. "We always hope for the best – we were afraid and very worried. To be honest, the result is unexpected.
"Vitalina is one of the elite of the world's shooters, but everyone there is very strong. When [it happened], I felt an explosion of joy and I was on the ceiling. The neighbors probably thought that someone had gone crazy.
"Her grandfather was a hunter, he brought her to us. She shot everything from slingshot to pneumatics. Thank god, there was then a sponsor who gave her a pistol. It was a former shooter. She was presented with a pistol with a huge handle, and everything went from there.
"I then persuaded my wife, who was already the coach of the youth team, to take Vitalina to the training camp."
Asked whether Batsarashkina would now be one of the most popular figures in her home city, Kudrin replied: "Yes. After all, she has an Olympic medal."Also on rt.com Vitalina Batsarashkina wins 1st gold for Russia, setting Olympic RECORD in women's 10m pistol event in Tokyo