As we barrel into the final week before the opening ceremony of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil it is time to take a look at the athletes who are competing in some of the lesser profile sports, in particular the Australian Shooting Team.
The Australian shooting contingent will compete in 14 disciplines across four different firearms classes.
In this first of three parts we will profile the shotgun athletes. The Aussies will be competing in five events: Women’s Trap, Women’s Skeet, Men’s Trap, Men’s Skeet and Men’s Double Trap.
The Women’s Trap event will have Catherine Skinner and Laetisha Scanlan stepping up to the firing point.
Catherine has been competing since 2006. Her list of podium appearances includes the 2010 World Junior Championships, a gold at the 2013 Universiade, a number of World Cup podiums and a bronze at the 2014 World Championships in Granada which secured a quota position for Rio.
Laetisha Scanlan will be making her Olympic debut in Rio. Laetisha has been shooting since 2005, winning gold at the Oceania Championships in 2011 and her first World Cup in 2013. The 26-year-old is no stranger to international competition, she already has 31 World Cup or International Championship appearances under her belt.
Aislin Jones will represent Australia in the Women’s Skeet event.
Jones will be the youngest Australian shooter to compete at an Olympic Games at the tender age of 16 years and 179 days. Don’t let her youth fool you she is a confident and accomplished shooter.
Aislin took up skeet shooting in 2012 and won the Australian Skeet Championship in 2015. If you are wondering, Aislin is pronounced Ash-lyn, hopefully it is a name that will be one everyone’s lips over the next couple of weeks.
The men’s shotgun events will feature five athletes.
Adam Vella will compete in the Men’s Trap alongside Mitchell Iles.
Adam has been competing on the international stage since 1994 and has the bronze medal from Athens in 2004 in his trophy cabinet. Adam has made numerous World Cup and Championship podiums during his long career.
In contrast to Adam, Mitchell Iles will be participating in his first Olympics. At 17 years of age Mitchell is just starting out in the world of international competition. Coached by his Dad, Bill, he earned his place by shooting qualifying scores in the San Marino World Cup.
Australia will be represented by Paul Adams and Keith Ferguson in the Men’s Skeet.
Paul started shooting at age ten with his grandfather, who is still his personal coach. In 2010 he took up the challenge of Skeet shooting. Unlucky to miss out on London 2012, Adam earned his Rio spot shooting a qualification score and winning one of the selection events.
Keith Ferguson made his Olympic debut in London 2012 where he finished in 20th position. Keith has made the podium in the Oceania Championships in 2011, 2013 and finally taking gold in 2015. A late starter, Keith took up shooting at 26 years of age but has proven himself to be one of the up and coming skeet shooters for Australia.
Australia’s final shotgun athlete is James Willet who will shoot in the Men’s Double Trap Event.
Twenty-year-old James began shooting at 12, taking up the Double Trap discipline in 2015. With 20 international events in his sporting résumé, including winning gold at the World Cup test event at Rio earlier this year, where he held off the Russian Vasily Mosin in the gold medal shoot-off.
In the next part of this series we will preview the pistol athletes.