Willett ready to rise again

7 June 2017

SHOOTING: James Willett’s ascension to the top of the world rankings was nothing short of astounding.

Despite starting to shoot when he was 12 he only took up the double trap discipline at the start of 2015 just after his 20th birthday.

Fast forward 18 months and Willett stood at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the world’s top ranked double trap shooter and, despite only just missing out on a medal, it was stuff that sporting dreams are made of.

Now Willett is going to have to do it all again.

In a bid to become more gender equal the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) recently made the decision to drop the event from the World Cup circuit from next year as well as the Olympic program for Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

This means that Willett will now finish the final double trap competitions on the international scene while starting his ascent up the trap ranks as well.

“It’s a little disappointing,” Willett said.

“I would have liked to continue shooting the double trap but with the way it’s panned out I’ve gotten to world number one and started winning major international events and now it’s been cut.

“This year I’ve started shooting both trap and double trap and hopefully I start shooting the trap well enough that I make the team for the World Cups and World Championships for next year.”

The final major double trap event will likely be the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Willett is on track to go out with a bang.

“I’ve gone well at the selection events to date and I’m aiming to make both the double trap and trap for the Commonwealth Games.

“I haven’t qualified for any major trap events this year yet so hopefully I’ll start to get some strong trap results in Australia in the coming months and then make the Australian squads for trap next year.”

While he is already thinking about his future in the sport he wants to make sure he continues Australia’s strong tradition of double trap success until the final shot is fired.

“I’ve got the World Championships later this year in Moscow and then I’ve also qualified for the World Cup Final.

“I’d like to finish off the double trap as the world’s best. I’m world number one at the moment and I’d like to stay there.

“I want to finish the event on a high this year and then onto the Commonwealth Games in form next year.”

A major reason why the double trap was taken from the Olympic program was a bid to ensure greater gender equality in the sport moving forward.

The event that will replace double trap at Tokyo 2020 is a mixed trap event which could bring Australia more Olympic shooting success considering Willett’s pedigree and the fact Australia had Catherine Skinner win trap gold at Rio and Laetisha Scanlan also make the final.

“Australia’s probably got the strongest women’s trap team in the world and there is a lot us young shooters coming up in the men’s trap as well so there could be opportunity for medals for us in Tokyo I’m sure,” Willett said.

“There are exciting times ahead.

“We haven’t competed in a mixed trap overseas as yet but have been trialling them here and maybe next year we’ll start to compete on the international scene in the new event.”

While he has plenty on his plate in terms of major events over the next few months Willett also keeps busy helping out on the family farm.

“We are pretty busy at home at the moment putting the crops in.

“Hopefully the weather will be kind to us during the year and we’ll get a good season this year.”

Willett lines up in the ISSF World Championships in Moscow which runs from August 30 – September 11 before the World Cup Final takes place between September 23-30 in New Delhi.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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