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202ONE Tokyo Olympics

man pointing gun while being watched behind

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

2020 202ONE Tokyo Olympics

 

Unless you have been living in a bubble you would be well aware that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games have become the 202ONE Olympics. The Games of the XXXll Olympiad will now commence on July 23rd, 2021.

The one-year delay was announced by the International Olympic Committee only a matter of hours after Shooting Australia’s last Olympic Selection event had concluded at the Sydney International Shooting Complex in Cecil Park. There was huge doubt whether the final trial was even going ahead as the government restrictions regarding the COVID-19 virus where getting tighter daily, but in the end the decision was made to conduct the last selection event with only the Minimum Olympic Qualified (MQS) athletes therefore cancelling the “open” competition that was to be conducted in conjunction with the Olympic qualifier. Shooting Australia has a new Chief Executive Officer in Luke van Kempen. He must wonder what he has done to deserve so many black cats crossing his path since taking over the sport in such a tumultuous time. Luke said “it was a huge undertaking to cancel the planned Shooting Australia Open and revise the event to become the fourth nomination Olympic Trial. If we didn’t it would have risked the chance that we were not able to complete the series and as a result, nominate the team to the Australian Olympic Committee. It could have been months until there was an opportunity to shoot again”.

It turns out van Kempen had a crystal ball because virtually the day after the trials the country was in lockdown. His biggest issue will be preparing his team for an event that is now well over a year away. He went on to state that “the biggest challenge is being able to confirm that there will be the right caliber of international and domestic events available to our athletes so they can best prepare for the games.” Sadly none of us have the answer to this problem at the moment as the entire 2020 International season has been completely canceled.

The selection process for the designated twelve Olympic events (four events in Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun) started back in January and was conducted over four competitions. The athlete’s Olympic nomination score was their combined points from the best three events combining their qualification score and bonus points for their “Finals” placing. For example, in a 125 target Skeet competition if an athlete hit 121 targets in the qualification rounds and then won the six-person final, they would get a bonus of 6 points for first place therefore a total score of 127 nomination points. If they finished second, they would get five bonus points all the way down to sixth place for one extra bonus point. The athlete cannot use the total accumulated points from their worst qualification score event therefore their total Olympic nomination score would be the total points from their best three qualification score events.

The Sydney Oceania Games back in November 2019 provided Australia with the majority of their starting “quota” places for the Olympics. The host nation dominated these Championships winning a total of eleven quotas. During the previous two years on the international circuit Australia also won an extra four quota places in Men’s Trap (James Willett), Women’s Trap (Laetisha Scanlan, Penny Smith) and Men’s Three Position Rifle (Dane Sampson) therefore giving the bonus of Australia having dual competitors in these three events therefore ensuring fifteen beds in the Olympic Village in Tokyo. It is important to understand that these quota places are awarded to the country and not the individual that won them. At the Olympic Games a maximum of two competitors is allowable for each event, however if a competitor has shot the MQS in an event that does not have two competitors from their country then they can cross over and fill the second spot. This is commonplace in Pistol and Rifle events, but rare in the Shotgun disciplines.

Under the Shooting Australia selection policy, the competitor that amassed the most nomination points gained automatic selection and in events where there was a double starter Shooting Australia reserved the right to subjectively select the second athlete.

When the dust settled the eleven (one competitor qualified first in two disciplines) automatically selected athletes were;

Pistol: Dina Aspandiyarova (Air Pistol Women), Daniel Repacholi (Air Pistol Men), Elena Galiabovitch (Sport Pistol Women) and Sergei Evgleski (Rapid Fire Men).

Rifle: Dane Sampson (3 Position Men and Air Rifle Men), Katarina Kowplos (3 Position Women) and Elise Collier (Air Rifle Women)

Shotgun: James Willett (Trap Men), Paul Adams (Skeet Women), Penny Smith (Trap Women) and Laura Coles (Skeet Women)

The High-Performance Committee then selected a further four athletes to fill the remaining four quota positions. These athletes were included based on a variety of criteria, but mainly their international performances over the past two years and ultimately their potential to perform at Olympic level. The “chosen three” were Tom Grice (Trap Men), Laetisha Scanlan (Trap Women) and Alex Hoberg (Men’s Air Rifle) and Jack Rossiter (Men’s Three Position Rifle).

Unfortunately, only two Trap women can compete in Tokyo, so the tough decision was made to leave Catherine Skinner out of the team. Skinner is the reigning Olympic Champion. In virtually every other team in the world she would be an automatic selection, but such is the strength of women’s Trap in Australia. I wouldn’t imagine a worse person to be put up against for selection than someone like Scanlan who has built up an impressive international resume since making the Olympic Final in Rio four years ago. Tom Grice finished a solitary point ahead of twenty-one year old up and comer Mitch Iles from Melbourne who also boasts two World open Shotgun titles to his name. Separating Grice from Iles must have been just as difficult as splitting the two girls.

Dane Sampson and Alex Hoberg will be competing in the Men’s Air Rifle event and Dane will partner Jack Rossiter in Men’s Three Position. A total of fifteen athletes will represent Australia when the Olympics finally take place in Tokyo in 2021. Seven of these athletes represented Australia at the previous Olympic Games.

Dane Sampson is a multiple finalist at World Cup level since the Rio Olympics and is certainly that disciplines main medal chance in Tokyo. This will be Sampson’s third Olympic experience so hopefully he can keep the momentum going from his Gold Coast Commonwealth Games win. Rossiter makes his second Olympic appearance whereas Hoberg, Kowplos and Collier are all making their Olympic debuts. The former two are only eighteen years of age. This hopefully will be the start of a long journey for the three of them.

Pistol has a wealth of experience in its team as well as a first timer in Sergei Evgleski whose mother, Lalita, was an Olympic Medallist for Belarus at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Sport Pistol. Daniel Repacholi, like Sampson, is coming off a gold medal performance on the Gold Coast and makes an impressive fifth Olympic appearance in Tokyo. Galiabovitch is a Sport Pistol World Cup Gold Medallist in 2019 at South Korea so could well provide our first Pistol Medal since 2000. Tokyo will be Dina Aspandiyarova’s fourth Olympic Games. Interestingly she has competed twice at Olympic level for her native Kazakhstan. She was a finalist back in 2000 and at forty-three years of age she is the veteran of the Australian Team.

Shotgun realistically has the greatest chance of multiple podium finishers next year. Laetisha Scanlan had an extraordinary international season in 2018 and 2019 reaching the number two world rank whilst in Men’s Trap world recorder holder and former world number one James Willett will make his second Olympic appearance after making the final at the Rio Games. Willett’s team-mate will be Tom Grice who competed at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and has a World Championship Pairs Gold Medal to his name. Impressively he also beat over five hundred competitors to win the prestigious Beretta Gold Cup last year in Italy.

Penny Smith, a dual women’s World Cup Trap Gold Medallist, makes a very deserved Olympic debut however the pressure of the occasion probably won’t affect the young Victorian. Her impressive scores in the Olympic trials would have pushed for a place in the men’s team.

The Trap Mixed Pairs probably has one of our best medal chances with Willett, Smith and Grice all being World Champions in this event. Willett with Teash Scanlan in 2019 and Grice with Smith in 2017. In Tokyo it would be fair to assume that Grice and Smith will again pair up and Willett and Scanlan will form the other partnership. Both combinations are excellent medal prospects. The composition of all Mixed Pairs Teams will not be confirmed until next year.

Skeet shooter Paul Adams makes his second Olympic appearance and has finished on the World Cup podium on three occasions since Rio.

In Women’s Skeet the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, Laura Coles, makes her long awaited first Olympic appearance and has the hopes of all Western Australians on her side.

With the 2020 international season virtually wiped out every shooter on earth will be looking forward to the first World Cup of 2021. This usually takes place in February or March. There will be a test event on the Tokyo range at some stage prior to the Olympics as well at least three World Cups for all competitors to re-sharpen their marksmanship skills.

There will always be debate about a team that has been selected so far out from a competition, sixteen months in fact, but there really was no other way. To reselect this team would have unfolded a minefield of moral and ethical issues as well as legal appeals. There are no distinct winners or losers from the grief that COVID-19 unleashed on the sporting world as well, of course, in society. Everyone has suffered to some degree. The Olympics is going ahead with some very grateful and competition starved athletes hungry to participate.

2020NE Australian Olympic Shooting Team

             Pistol

Sergei Evgleski           Rapid Fire Pistol Men

Daniel Repacholi          Air Pistol Men

Elena Galibovitch        Sport Pistol Women

Dina Aspandiyarova     Air Pistol Women

                  Rifle

Dane Sampson           3 Position Men

Air Rifle Men

Alex Hoberg                Air Rifle Men

Jack Rossiter             3 Position Men

Katarina Kowplos        3 Position Women

Elise Collier                Air Rifle Women

        Shotgun

James Willett              Trap Men

Tom Grice                  Trap Men

Penny Smith              Trap Women

Laetisha Scanlan      Trap Women

Paul Adams               Skeet Men

Laura Coles               Skeet Women

*the final composition of the Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun pairs will be confirmed in early 2021

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