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Article 4 – 2020 (May)

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 4 – 2020 (May)


Question: I was happy to see that the Australian Olympic Team for next year contained so many SSAA members. It was great to see the announcement obtained so much coverage in the national media. What I don’t understand is in some events we have two competitors and others like Pistol only have one competitor. I also noted the unrest that the Skeet shotgun shooters had about not getting an extra place awarded to them. Can you explain the difference in competitor numbers and why shotgun didn’t get the extra place?

Joy Sandilands, Flemington VIC


Answer:  The amount of competitors each country can send to the Olympics is determined by designated international competitions conducted approximately two years prior to Games. These events have what is called “Quota places” that in reality are beds in the Olympic Village. The majority of quota places for the Australian Olympic Shooting Team are won at a competition called the Oceania Games. This time is was conducted in late 2019 and Australia was able to gain eleven quota places at this event from the twelve Olympic events on offer.

Earlier in 2018 and 2019 our nation won an additional four quota places at the World Shotgun Championships and two other World Cup competitions. These were won by James Willett, Laetisha Scanlan and Penny Smith in Trap and by Dane Sampson in Men’s Air Rifle. Because of the efforts of these four athletes and the other eleven athletes that won at the Oceania Titles a total of fifteen athletes will have “beds in the village” and in Men’s Trap, Women’s Trap and Men’s Air Rifle Australia could have an extra starter in Tokyo. There is a maximum of two athletes per event. Dane Sampson won the right at the Olympic Trials to be a “double starter” as he qualified also to compete in the Men’s Three Position Rifle.

Pistol won four quota places at the Oceania Championships, but no other starting places in any other designated international events therefore they have only one competitor in each of their four individual Olympic events. There is a possibility that a pistol competitor that has an Olympic Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) in the alternate event that they have not been nominated in to actually cross over and compete in that event also. At this stage that has not been verified if that may happen.

Your other question about why Shotgun was not awarded an extra place takes some explaining! In reality there was no “extra place” to be swapped. Rifle, by courtesy of Dane Sampson, won his discipline the additional place. It is important to note that the quota place is awarded to the Nation and not the athlete that won it. After the Olympic Trials were over there was a lot of speculation that Rifle would send the same two athletes to participate in both rifle events that would in turn free up an extra “bed in the village”. Shotgun obviously would have liked this as the competitor that qualified in second position is a current world record holder.

At this point it gets messy. The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) was contacted and stated the quota could not get “swapped” from one discipline to another until after ALL international Olympic Quota places have been distributed. Because of the COVID-19 crisis there are still two quota places to be awarded and this will now not be concluded until April 2021. The Australian Olympic Committee determined they did not want to wait until next year to name the full team so Shooting Australia decided to keep the quota within Rifle and a third athlete was named to use that starting position. Shooting Australia may have very well have decided to use this strategy anyway as they are under no obligation to swap a quota from one discipline to another.

I know this is as clear as mud, but after the COVID-19 virus nothing is quite clear anymore.

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