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Article 6 – 2020 (July)

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 6 – 2020 (July)

Question: I was happy to see that the Australian Olympic Shooting Team for Tokyo contained so many SSAA members. It was also great to see the announcement received 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. Years ago, I had quite an interest in Pistol and I remember up to three athletes competing in each event. I also noted the unrest that the Skeet shotgun shooters had about not getting an extra team member added to their team. 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 commencing approximately two years prior to Games. These events have attached to them for the successful competitors what is called “Quota places” or starting places. In reality these places are simply “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 event is was conducted in late 2019 and Australia was able to gain eleven quota places from the twelve Olympic events that were 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” at the Tokyo Olympics. In Men’s Trap, Women’s Trap and Men’s Air Rifle Australia will 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 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 or allocated to another event such as Skeet. Rifle, by courtesy of Dane Sampson, won his discipline the additional place at a World Cup in 2019. 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 as they finished in first and second place and if this happened 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. There was a lot of finger pointing about where this quota swapping story started as evident by a media story in Fairfax newspapers. The reality is that swapping a quota is always an option before a team is announced, but it is never as straight forward as many competitors assumed.

At this point it gets messy. The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) were 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 international quota places to be awarded and this process will now not be concluded until after the European Games in 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 from that discipline was named to use that starting position (please see the May edition of the Australian Shooters Journal for the full team list). In conclusion Shooting Australia may have very well decided to use this strategy regardless as they are under no obligation to swap a quota place from one discipline to another.

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

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