American Jamie Gray proudly displays her gold medal in the women's… (Marwan Naamani / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON — Jamie Gray had thought about her final Olympic shot in London a “bazillion” times since botching her last one in Beijing and narrowly missing out on a medal four years ago.
The American envisioned it in her mind, practiced it in training and talked about it repeatedly with a sports psychologist.
But when the actual moment came Saturday morning, her already substantial lead made the final shot in the women’s 50-meter rifle three position seem inconsequential. Gray, however, wasn’t about to abandon her strategy.
She took several deep breaths, focused on calming her nerves, pictured the perfect shot in her mind and then fired a massive 10.8 points to win the United States’ third gold medal in shooting during these Games. Her 691.9 total points, including a 99.9 in the final round, also set an Olympic record.
“This is a dream come true,” the two-time Olympian said after the medal ceremony. “I made a plan and I stuck to it. It was just a great performance.”
Ivana Maksimovic of Serbia won silver with a total score of 687.5 points, while the Czech Republic’s Adela Sykorova took the bronze with 683.0.
Gray’s victory marks only the second time since World War II that the United States has won three gold medals in shooting. It last had three shooters atop the podium in the 1984 Games.
While all 46 shooters struggled with cold and rainy conditions during the qualifying rounds, Gray performed well in the first position, prone, posting a perfect 100 points in the second series.
She maintained that form throughout the session and never had her lead truly threatened at the Royal Artillery Barracks in southeast London.
Gray, a native of Lebanon, Pa., finished the qualification round by setting an Olympic record of 592 points.
With a significant lead heading into the final session, Gray notched 10.5 points out of a possible 10.9 on her first shot and never looked back. She posted a low of 8.9 points in her ninth attempt, but then rebounded with the near-perfect 10.8 on the final one.
“I’ve worked on taking that last shot for four years,” she said. “It was almost a moment of relief. I knew it was a good one.”
Gray, whose husband is a U.S. Army marksmanship unit staff sergeant, did not have any immediate plans to celebrate her medal because none of her family members traveled to London for the Games. She said she might mark the occasion with other members of the U.S. shooting team, including her athletes village roommate, Kim Rhode, who already won a gold medal in women’s skeet.