As the clock ticks down towards the opening ceremony of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, we continue our 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 third part we will profile the rifle athletes. The Aussies will be competing in four events: Women’s 10m Air Rifle, Men’s 10m Air Rifle, Men’s three Position 50m Rifle, and Men’s 50m Prone Rifle.
Our lone competitor in the women’s rifle events is Jennifer Hens who will be competing against the world’s best in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event.
Jennifer began shooting in 2001 and started competing in 2008. She has been competing on the international stage since 2010 and 2015 saw her first gold medal at the Oceania Championships in Sydney. Jennifer holds the Australian record score of 414.4 set last year in Munich.
The Men’s 10m Air Rifle will have two Aussies doing their best, Dane Sampson and Jack Rossiter.
Dane Sampson will be one of our busiest athletes, he has been selected to compete in three disciplines, Men’s 10m Air Rifle, Men’s 3 Position 50m Rifle, and Men’s 50m Prone Rifle. Dane is one of Australia’s leading shooters and will notch up his second games appearance in Rio.
He took up shooting in 1998 and entered his first international competition in 2011. A versatile and solid competitor who is more than capable of mixing it with the best.
19-year-old Jack Rossiter has represented Australia at both junior and senior level. He started competing in 2010. In his first international competition in 2011, Jack took the Junior Silver at the Oceania Championships.
He followed this with both the Youth and Senior Oceania Gold in 2013. The 2015 Oceania once again saw him on the top step of the podium.
To give you an idea of the difficulty of this discipline, at ten metres the ten ring (or bullseye) is a mere 0.5 mm in diameter and is scored based on ten divisions of that 0.5 mm ring. A steel nerve is required in the head to head finals.
Australia’s competitors in the Men’s 50m three Position Rifle event are William Godward and Dane Sampson.
William has been competing since 2007 and has represented Australia in a number of rifle disciplines. This will be his second Olympics after competing in the 10m Air Rifle event in London 2012.
Will has been selected in the 3 Position 50 metre event for Rio after taking silver at the Oceania Championships behind teammate Dane Sampson.
The final shooting discipline we will be looking at is the Men’s 50m Prone Rifle event. Our representatives are reigning World Champion Warren Potent and the ever-present Dane Sampson.
Warren took up rifle shooting in 1978 as a 16-year-old. He was the bronze medallist at London 2012 in the prone event. In 2014 he became Australia’s first 50m Prone Rifle World Champion when he beat the best the world had to offer in Granada, Spain. His form has continued throughout 2015 and 2016.
Warren took World Cup silver medals in Bangkok and Rio earlier this year so remains a strong chance to once again climb onto the winner’s podium. This will be Warren’s fifth appearance for Australia at the Olympics.
Australia has plenty of talented athletes in the shooting disciplines. With shooting being a minor sport, many of the athletes, across all of the shooting disciplines, struggle for funding and sponsorship. Along with their families, they all work hard to fund their training and overseas travel.
As these athlete profiles show, many of the athletes compete on the world circuits for many years without much press or recognition. So now is a perfect opportunity to get behind a great bunch of athletes and let them know that we are supporting them.