LONDON -- Almost a medalist in Beijing. Almost perfect in London.
For Jamie Lynn Gray, four years of anguish was washed away on Saturday.
Gray, who starred in college for UAF, gave the United States its third shooting gold medal of the London Olympics, winning the women's 50-meter three-position rifle.
Her clinching final shot netted 10.8 points out of a possible 10.9 and followed her worst shot of the 10-shot finals.
"That last shot is probably one of the hardest shots to take," said Gray, who was part of four NCAA championship riflery teams in Fairbanks. "And I've worked on taking that last shot for four years."
While Gray finished with near-perfection, Eagle River's Corey Cogdell had a perfect start to her pursuit of a second Olympic medal in women's trapshoot -- but she couldn't make the magic last.
Cogdell, who didn't miss a target in the first round, faded badly after that and didn't make it into the finals.
"The only thing worse than not making the final at the Olympics is not even making it to the Olympics," Cogdell, 25, wrote on Twitter. "I am very thankful for the opportunity."
While Cogdell claimed a bronze medal in Beijing, Gray saw bronze narrowly slip away twice in 2008, settling for fourth in air rifle and fifth in the three-position event. She missed the medal stand by a combined 1.8 points in those events, seeing what looked like at least a sure bronze in three-position get away on a last-shot mistake.
Not this time.
Gray slipped up a bit on her next-to-last shot in the final, managing only an 8.9, her worst shot of 10 in the medal round. Still, she only needed an 8.3 on the finale to wrap up gold -- and did far more than that, sealing it up with her best score of the round and giving the American shooting team its first three-gold Olympics since 1984.
"I've worked for four years taking that shot, over and over and over again in my head," said Gray, who competed under her maiden name of Beyerle in Beijing and at UAF. "I shot a bad shot, of course, the second-to-last shot. And I just threw it out. I did a great job of going, 'OK, it's over, it doesn't matter and move on to the next one.' And that's exactly what I did. And it was a great shot -- couldn't ask for anything better."
Gray posted a 691.9 total to finish 4.4 points better than silver-medalist Ivana Maksimovic of Serbia. She pumped her fist after her final shot and wiped away a tear while hugging U.S. coach Dave Johnson, who was also her coach at UAF.
Gray set an Olympic record in the qualifying round by scoring 592 of a possible 600. She shot 98-100--198 prone, 99-99--198 standing and 98-98--196 kneeling. That broke the old Olympic qualifying record of 589, set in 1996, and was two points off the world record.
Shooting sometimes at the same time as Gray at London's Royal Artillery Barracks, Cogdell got off to a red-hot start in trapshoot qualifying but couldn't keep it up.
She was one of four women who broke all 25 targets in the first of three rounds. She hit her first seven targets in the second round before missing and then missed two of her final eight shots to post a second-round score of 22. That put her a two-way tie for sixth place, with spots in the finals awaiting the top six shooters.
Cogdell couldn't mount a third-round comeback, firing 21 to finish well out of the finals and was one of three shooters to post a three-round score of 68.
Italy's Jessica Rossi, who set a world record in qualifying with a perfect 75, fired 24 of 25 in the finals to breeze to the gold medal. She flirted with a perfect 100, getting to 91-for-91 before her lone miss of the day.
When it was over, Rossi -- a policewoman when she's not competing -- wrapped herself in the Italian flag, even while three other competitors were preparing for a tiebreaker to decide the silver and bronze spots.
"Molto bene," Rossi said, beaming.
But maybe no one left the venue happier than Gray.
She was one of the last to shoot in every round of the final, taking a few extra seconds for breathe deeply and to visualize, going through the mental checklist she's had since 2008. Every time she has practiced since Beijing, she has thought about what went wrong there, so much so that she has refused to leave the range until she shoots a 10.
"You never want your last shot to be a bad one," she said.
So it was fitting. On Saturday, on the Olympic stage again, her last shot was her best. All the work, all the visualizing, all the pain of having to answer what went wrong in Beijing four years ago, paid off.
"It was almost a little bit of relief, honestly," Gray said. "I've dreaded that last shot for four years."