The U.S. duo of Mary Tucker and Lucas Kozeniesky won silver as mixed team air rifle shooting made its Olympic debut Tuesday, dropping a tense final match 17-13 to China's Yang Qian and Yang Haoran.
In this new event, two qualifying rounds narrow the field down for two head-to-head matchups, one for gold and one for bronze. Tucker and Kozeniesky actually trailed compatriots Alison Weisz and men's air rifle gold medal Will Shaner in the first round of qualifying. Weisz and Shaner were fifth; Tucker and Kozeniesky seventh. Weisz and Shaner finished sixth in the second round of qualifying, not enough to make the medal matches.
For the head-to-head matches, the four shooters each take one shot simultaneously. On each team, the two shooters' shots are combined. The team with the highest score collects two points; in the event of a tie, each team gets one.
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China took the first two points by 0.1 points, with Yang and Yang firing 10.5 and 10.3 to Tucker's 10.5 and Kozeniesky's 10.2. The Americans rallied to take the next round to tie the match at 2-2.
After China took a 5-3 lead, the U.S. shooters ramped up the pressure, winning the next two rounds to take a 7-5 lead and prompting China to take a timeout. The coaching didn't work right away, as Tucker and Kozeniesky moved on to take a 9-5 lead, but China rattled off several stellar shots to tie the match at 9-9 and again at 11-11.
Next, China posted a nearly unbeatable score of 21.5 (10.8 and 10.7) to take a 13-11 lead, then doubled the lead to move one point away from victory in the first-to-16 format. Tucker and Kozeniesky rallied with a 21.1 to pull within 15-13, raising the prospect of a winner-take-all final shot, but they could only post a 19.8 in the next round while China sealed the win.
Tucker and Kozeniesky also qualified for their individual finals, where each shooter finished sixth. The Chinese pair won their second medals — Yang Qian won the women's air rifle event, while Yang Haoran took bronze in the men's event.
The ROC took bronze with a 17-9 win over South Korea.
SEE MORE: On Her Turf: Olympic Shooter Mary Tucker