London: The first of the 503 gold medals that will be awarded at these Paralympic Games went to Zhang Cuiping, a 24-year-old rifle shooter from China, who also became the first woman to score more than 500 points in the 10 metres standing event.
Zhang found the centre of the target with all but four of her 50 shots, including all 10 attempts in the final, to break a world record that had stood for more than a decade, but, for one-shot brilliance, she had to share the limelight with a 70-year-old Australian who first competed at the Paralympics more than 15 years before Zhang was born.
Libby Kosmala, the oldest competitor at the Games, won a bronze for swimming in Heidelberg in 1972 before switching to shooting, where she has won nine gold and three silver medals.
Kosmala finished last of the eight finalists Thursday but had a near-perfect score of 10.8 with her third attempt in the final, matched twice but not bettered by Zhang. The silver medal was won by Manuela Schmermund, the German, and Natalie Smith, of Australia, snatched the bronze by 0.1 from Lee Yun Ri, of South Korea.
Schmermund had finished almost as strongly as Zhang, and she had needed to deny Deanna Coates, the three-time champion, a place in the final.