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Shooting wrap: Australia returns to medal list

15 August 2016

Australian shooting returned to the medal list for the first time since Beijing, and topped the podium for the first time since Suzy Balogh’s trap win in Athens when Catherine Skinner, showing nerves of steel, claimed a heart-stopping trap gold medal at the Olympic Shooting Centre at Deodoro.

Needing to defeat Canadian Cynthia Meyer in a sudden death shoot off just to make the six woman semi-final after both shooters were tied on 67 targets, Skinner then produced the rounds of her life to claim the gold medal.

Skinner was joined in the final by fellow Australian Laetisha Scanlan who actually topped the qualifying with 70 shots.

Scanlan however was unable to produce her best in the semi-final and was eliminated into fifth position.

After hitting 14 of the 15 targets, Skinner advanced to the gold medal match where she faced New Zealand’s Natalie Rooney in the 15 shot final.

The 26 year-old Australian got off to the worst possible start missing her first target, and then her fourth to give the New Zealander a seemingly unassailable lead.

But while Skinner would not miss another target until her 12th shot, her opponent would stumble and miss her sixth, seventh, 11th and 12th shot that left Skinner shooting for gold on her final shot that she duly hit to set off scenes of pandemonium, including a leaping hug of celebration from Scanlan, despite her own disappointment at missing a medal.

“I can’t believe I’m the Olympic champion,” Skinner said in the aftermath.

“I’ve worked very hard and I just kept believing in myself and not giving up and here I am.

“It’s an incredible feeling – I was so thrilled to be able to share this with my mum Ann and brother Craig. It’s just the greatest feeling ever."

The other Australian to make a final was double trap star James Willett, who jointly qualified in first position for the six man final, but was unable to reproduce his best form in the pressure cooker environment and was defeated in a sudden death shoot off to make the gold medal match.

Willett can say he was a part of Olympic history – not only did he jointly set the new Olympic qualifying record of 140, but the event was won by Fehaid Aldeehani, representing the Independent Olympic Athletes.

Despite his disappointment, Willett enjoyed his first Olympic appearance.

“I only picked up this sport 18 months ago and if you had of told me I’d be in the Olympic final I would have said you were nuts,” he said.

“This has given me a great taste of the Olympics and I’ve loved it all – from the Opening Ceremony, to competition and just being around the best athletes."

The men’s skeet competition was a case of so near and yet so far for the Australian pair – with Keith Ferguson missing a shoot off place by just one shot and Paul Adams by two.

There is plenty to look forward among the shotgun team, with 17 year-old Mitchell Iles making his first Olympics in the trap team. Iles missed a place in the final with a final score of 110, while Athens bronze medallist Adam Vella shot 115 to also miss a finals berth while 16 year-old Aislin Jones performed well in the women’s skeet to finish in 17th.

Inside the Shooting Hall, results didn’t go the way the Australian team was hoping, with a poor final series costing Beijing bronze medallist Warren Potent a chance of making the final in the 50 metre prone event. He finished 35th with compatriot Dane Sampson in 31st place.

In other results, Jennifer Hens was 39th in the women’s 10 metre air rifle, Blake Blackburn 36th and Daniel Repacholi 44th in the 10 metre air pistol while Repacholi was 28th in the 50 metre pistol event.

In the women’s 10 metre air pistol Lalita Yauhlevskaya was 24th and Elena Galiabovitch 43rd, while they finished 13th and 32nd respectively in the women’s 25 metre pistol Dane Sampson was 37th and Jack Rossiter 46th in the men’s 10 metre air rifle while David Chapman was 26th in the 25 metre rapid fire pistol, while in the final event, Dane Sampson was 20th and Will Godward 39th in the men’s 50 metre 3 position rifle.

Damian Kelly


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